Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

What to do when your son offers you a cockroach

How to connect with your children even if you are not interested in the same things. And the benefits of deeper connection with your children.

Last night, I was sitting on the couch reading when I heard my 6 year old son call excitedly, "Quick, come see this!"

I dropped my book and ran downstairs. My son was standing at the bottom of the stairs, his hands cupped, his face excited.

He opened his hands, and said "Look, this is the biggest cockroach I have ever seen. I love cockroaches. Do you want to hold him?"

Never have I felt so completely the opposite of someone...

I think this is one of the challenges of being a parent. So often, what interests my son or daughter is completely different than what interests me. It is difficult to find common ground and to find the things that we enjoy doing together.

But recently I learned a simple mindset change that has allowed me to connect with my kids, even over topics that I don't find interesting.

This mindset shift has helped me to become more engaged with the things that they are engaged. Because of this, my kids speak to me more, and I understand them better.

I learned about this mindset after talking to Rebecca Rolland, an author and Harvard Graduate School lecturer and speech pathologist, for my book "How To Get Kids To Listen."

Rebecca has developed a technique she calls "Curious Waiting", which parents can use to create deeper connections and relationships with their children.

Part of this "Curious Waiting" technique is realizing that you need to focus on your child, not on the activity.

Instead of focusing on the thing you are not interested in (the cockroach), focus on the thing you are interested in (your child).

Become an investigator, and focus on finding out why your child is so interested in this. Ask them questions to discover their motivations, their goals, and what they are trying to do.

The benefit? Here's what Rebecca said about using this technique:

I've found that that's powerful just in allowing the child to start driving the conversation. Because we don't often focus on having a child really lead us in conversation. And just taking one of those moment-by-moment opportunities to start taking a child's lead and to show them that we really are engaged in what they're engaged in and interested in what they're interested in.

And so, I found that to be really helpful just as an open-ended prompt before having any kind of deeper conversation.

Rebecca Rolland

Doing this regularly builds a deeper connection with your child. And the more connected your child feels to you, the better they will cooperate and help you accomplish your goals.

The thing is really to realize that when a child feels as if you're bonded, they want to help you meet your goals also. Set up a longer-term foundation for more cooperation in the future too.

Rebecca Rolland

In the full interview with Rebecca, she shares the steps required to use this "Curious Waiting" technique, as well as how this technique helps you understand your child better, prevents power struggles, and gives your child a sense of control.

You can find the full interview Rebecca Rolland - How to use “Curious Waiting” to connect with your child - here.

Talk soon

Sue Meintjes