Upon returning from a road trip to visit family, I saw this question on what we do together to facilitate kids opening up. Because of a big hug I had just received from a niece I thought about this a little further.
See, after visiting my family for a somber occasion, we stopped by to see my brother-in-law and family on our way back home. They happened to be hosting all of their grandchildren for a week. Three of them, my wife and I only see about once a year. When we arrived for a short visit, as soon as my little niece saw me she cut out like gang busters to run and give me a hug. It was so special and overwhelming that it stayed with me.
We saw them last year about the same time and during that day did several things together. We played in our den, went for a walk to the playground and overall had a good time. The entire time was filled with constant conversation from those three.
As I reflect on the question of how to get children to open up, I don’t know if it’s what they did that day we spent together, but how they felt. I doubt if seeing my face brought back memories of all the things we did, but somewhere it triggered a small nugget of how she felt. Like long after we have forgotten the details of a movie dialogue, we remember the story line and how it made us feel. It is the same when kids feel loved, heard and appreciated that they open up and share themselves. They hold those memories for years to come, and in the context of those fond memories they may recall what they were doing when they formed.
After a warm greeting my wife and I went to the store and bought everyone a summer play bag filled with toys, bubbles, and balloons, hoping next year the hugs will continue to come.
Make them feel great!
Author, "From Nurse To Drill Sergeant to Cheerleader"