Sharing Our Stories: Family Conversations for Social-Emotional Health
Did you know that you can improve social-emotional health by having meaningful conversations with loved ones? Whether at home, over the phone, or virtually, sharing stories across generations is a great way to increase resilience and positive emotions like happiness and empathy.
If you have children or teens in your life that you want to connect with but don’t know where to start, try striking up a conversation that you can build on with shared experiences and interests. For example, you can ask a child what the hardest thing about being their age is or what music is their favorite right now, and use their response as a starting point to listen, support, and share similarities from your life. Consider these communication strategies as well:
- Start a conversation with a child or teen when you are both available and not busy with tasks such as homework or chores. Make sure the environment is quiet and free of distractions, such as by putting phones away and turning off electronics. Good times to start a conversation might be in the car, on a walk, and while sharing a meal.
- Approach family conversations with an open mind. Plan to listen without judgment and speak honestly. If a child seems distracted or upset, pause the conversation and try again another time.
- Make yourself approachable so kids feel comfortable coming to talk to you about any topic. Be willing to pause what you are doing to listen to a child or teen who initiates a conversation with you.
- If kids are not super talkative, don’t give up! Try sharing a story about yourself that relates to their interests or use our suggested questions below.
Family Questions to Share:
Growing up one of my favorite family traditions was __________________. What is your favorite family tradition? Why?
Do you know the story of how __________ [relative, close friend] and I met?
Do you know where I was born and where I grew up?
The greatest thing I learned from my family was ___________________. What memorable lesson have you learned from your family?
What is your happiest memory? My happiest memory is ___________________.
When I was younger, the bravest thing I did was ___________________. What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?