Communicating with Your Child: Door Openers vs Door Slammers

This article explains how parents can keep the door of communication open with their children.

One important listening skill to have when communicating with your child is being certain to use "door openers," as opposed to "door slammers." Door openers are open-ended responses that do not convey evaluation or judgment. Door slammers are just the opposite; they convey to your child that you do not wish to have this discussion with her. They make her feel guilty for wanting to know. They shut the door on any communication.

Some examples of door openers include:

  • "What do you think?"
  • "Would you like to share more about that?"
  • "That's a good question."
  • "I don't know, but I'll find out."
  • "I'm interested in what you are saying."
  • "Do you know what that means?"
  • "That sounds important to you."
  • "Do you want to talk about it?"
  • "I'm here when you want to talk."
Some examples of door slammers include:
  • "Don't talk to me in that tone of voice!"
  • "No."
  • "You are too young to understand."
  • "If you say that again, I'll . . . "
  • "That's none of your business."
  • "I don't care what your friends are doing!"
  • "We'll talk about that when you need to know."
  • "That's just for boys/girls."
  • "Why are you asking me that?"
  • "You don't need to know about that."
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