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Help! My 4-Year-Old and I Have Awkward Silences

Photograph by Twenty20

My kids are out of school for the summer, and since I work from home they’re staying with me most days. I have to say that I was looking forward to having them home for the summer. I like being able to take them on special outings and do fun activities with them. But I’ve discovered having conversations with two pre-schoolers isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

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Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be anything to talk about at all.

You see, I’m not really one to talk about the weather or the baseball game last night (is baseball on right now?). I enjoy talking about current events and deep philosophical issues … oh, and the latest episode of "Real Housewives." But I can’t really talk about those things with my 4-year-old. He wants to talk about Power Rangers and the many different types of Yo-Kais on Yo-Kai Watch. Admittedly I am bored to tears when he goes on and on about these subjects. And then sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be anything to talk about at all. When he was in school we could discuss what he did in school that day or what he was learning. It seemed easier to strike up a conversation.

Now, however, we’re together all the time. All. The. Time. Sometimes I just don’t know how to fill up the time or the quiet. How do I talk to my 4-year-old? What do we talk about?

I decided that I could start introducing him to some things that I enjoy that he might enjoy as well. The first was Broadway musicals. I explained to him that people put on shows in which they would sing and dance and wear costumes, and that other people would come and watch the shows. I played him songs and videos from some of my favorite musicals: "The Lion King" (since he was familiar with the animated version) and "Wicked" (since he had seen "The Wizard of Oz" before). He loved it! We had a whole conversation about Broadway and what each of the shows were about. While discussing "Wicked" we were able to have a deeper discussion on accepting people’s differences and how friendships transcend outward appearances.

I’m realizing more and more that my kid wants to talk to me … about anything and everything. He yearns to spend time together learning about the world. He will be going into kindergarten next year and I believe he is becoming mature enough to talk about all kinds of world issues in an age-appropriate manner. He also has formed many opinions about the world already. It’s nice to just sit and ask him questions and get him thinking about why he feels the way he does about certain things.

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Building a trusting bond with my son starts now. These are the days when he will learn that it’s OK to come to me with anything. He’s learning that I want to have conversations with him and that it’s important to communicate with each other. Hopefully our conversations will carry on as he grows and he will know that I am a trusted ally. I look forward to introducing him to more things I enjoy: books, bands, artists. I look forward to what those conversations will lead to. And yes, sometimes we’ll just sit and talk about Power Rangers because it’s what he likes. And I’m OK with that.

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