LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: 6 steps to get children talking.

Last week we went over 6 ways to get your children to listen to you better. Now, we’re going the other way and learning how to get them talking. It’s important to know about what’s going on in their life — especially when you suspect something is wrong, or they seem sad.

Most parents know when something is up, or not sitting well with their kids. Unfortunately, getting them to open up about it can be a challenge. Usually, it’s because they’re embarrassed, or maybe trying to keep concerning information away from you. So, here are six suggestions to help you get your kids talking about what’s going on in their life — especially when you suspect sadness:

*Ask Directly. Create a safe place between you both and directly ask your child if something is wrong.

*Give Them Space. If your son or daughter doesn’t want to quote “talk about it” – then it’s fine to give your child the needed space to process his or her emotions. Experts say, by doing this, your child will feel respected and many times will return to speak with you about whatever the issue is.

*Don’t always jump in with solutions and advice. Experts say, sometimes kids just need to vent, so by showing your kids you want to listen instead of just giving your point of view, the more likely they will return to talk with you in the future.

*Show Empathy. When we empathize with our children they develop trusting, secure attachments with us that help them to open up.

*Use Media. Experts say by using situations from TV shows or movies where the character is sad or dealing with drama, you can then use this as a way to get them talking about whatever it is you want to know about.

*Be Creative Together: Experts say, kids feel more comfortable speaking about whatever is on their mind when they’re doing something creative with their parents, like a puzzle or art project, that makes them feel at ease.

Being a great parent includes getting our kids to share with us what is going on in their world, and by using these six tips, you may just be able to accomplish that goal.