21 Communicate with your child Students in the upper elementary grades are starting to think more independently. They are more involved in outside activities and their peer group is becoming more important. As a result of these changes, children who once shared every detail of their lives may start distancing themselves from adults. While this is normal, it can make communication more of a challenge. When parents ask “How was school today?” they are likely to hear “fine,” “boring,” or “okay.” Although communicating with your child may now be more difficult, it is important that you make the extra effort. u Show interest in what your child has to say. Remove distractions and take the time to really listen. When parents show that they’re truly interested, children will usually open up. u It’s often easier to talk to your child when you are doing something you both enjoy. Make time for one-on-one activities such as cooking, watching a game, working on a car, taking a walk, or going out for ice cream. These are all great ways to spend quality time with your child.They are also excellent opportunities for conversation. u Timing is important. Be available to listen when your child wants to talk. Also, look for times when your child is likely to be open to conversation (e.g., right after getting home from school, before going to bed). A particularly good time to talk is when you are driving in the car. You’re not facing each other, it’s quiet, it feels safe, and you are spending the time together anyway. u Recognize the importance of nonverbal communication. Children are not always able to put into words what they want or need their parents to know. It is, therefore, important to pay attention to body language, moods, eating habits, sleeping patterns, and school per- formance. These can be good indicators of how things are going at school and with friends.