How to Get Your Kids to Open Up


Kathy Helgemo shares a way get your kids to open up and how to encourage them to be who God created them to be.

In Jill Savage and Kathy Koch’s new book, No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are, they suggest an identity strengthening exercise for our families.

It’s to help your kids open up and share their thoughts and feelings.

But there’s a catch……

In order for it to be fruitful to everyone in the family, we (the mom) must do it first. It’s not one of those, “Do as I say not as I do” moments. Thankfully, most moms are list makers by default so it’s not too hard. Really.

If your kids are able to share more about themselves with you and vice-versa, it’s worth a shot! 

Here we go…

Make a list of 15-20 statements that begin with the phrase “I am”.

Remember, I am a mom — a list maker. So this should be easy, right? Not when I am talking about myself. I’m great about talking about their kids. Not so much about myself sometimes.

Here’s mine…

1. I am a wife.
2. I am a mom.
3. I am a woman – with hair dyed red.
4. I am a cycle-breaker in my family.
5. I am a lover.
6. I am Christ’s.
7. I am only one of many.
8. I am happy.
9. I am an anxious person only part of the time.
10. I am tired only some of the time.
11. I am energetic when I love what I am doing.
12. I am a lousy housekeeper, but a good cuddler.
13. I am good at putting babies to sleep.
14. I am an awesome cook when I want to be.
15. I am a convert to Catholicism.
16. I am not a people-pleaser.
17. I am an emotional person.
18. I am not good at crying in front of people.

(Spoiler Alert: Do not read any further until you have completed it yourself!!)

Next, examine the list for the following trends:
How many positive statements did you make about yourself?
How many negative statements did you make about yourself?
Those were the easy ones. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
It’s the next set of examination questions that are curious…
Is each statement accurate?
Well, to me they were.
Is each statement currently true? Or did I inadvertently answer, “Who was I?” or “Who do I want to be?”
That’s a tricky one. For instance #13 I haven’t exercised in quite a while, but I know that I can still do it!
Look at the order of the statements. What’s significant?
Well, let’s just say that I hoped Jesus would have made it higher on my list.
Are your identity statements wide – those which encompass a variety of your interactions with the world. Or, are they narrow – do they primarily focus on one aspect of your life?

Sharing these lists is a good way to keep up with everyone in your family. Have your family do the same exercise without giving them any instruction ahead of time. For younger ones, have them dictate to you as you write.

What did I learn? I know I struggle with expressing all of my feelings and emotions with my family. My children have expressed to me that they wish that I would “listen” more. It was a good start for me to understand who “I am” first.

Want to learn more about accepting your kids for who God made them? Read Jill Savage and Kathy Koch’s new book, No More Perfect Kids: Love Your Kids for Who They Are.


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