Parents who create a rapport with their kids usually do so by listening and creating an overall warm climate for relationship building.

Parents who create a rapport with their kids usually do so by listening and creating an overall warm climate for relationship building. These practices also will maximize a child's overall sport experience.

One way to create such a climate is to use open-ended questions regularly. An open-ended question prompts the child to answer in more than one-word responses. For example, take the following closed-ended questions and see how easily they can be turned into more interactive questions:
"Did you win tonight?"
(closed-ended)
"Tell me about the game tonight." (open-ended)
"Do you like the coach? (closed-ended)"
"Tell me how you feel about the coach."
(open-ended)
The way in which you ask a question will determine the length and depth of the response. In closed-ended questions the responses are likely to be yes or no, while open-ended questions prompt the child to talk about how he or she feels.

So why is this important? It builds trust and rapport, helps with problem solving, and allows your child to vent when things aren't going so well. The key is to first ask important questions using the open-ended method, then remain quiet and listen closely to what your child says. Unfortunately, some parents do a good job of using open-ended questions, but fail when it comes to allowing their child ample time to respond.

Here are some quick pointers on how you can improve communication with your child:

Whenever possible, use open-ended questions when inquiring about your child's practices and games. After you ask an open-ended question, stop talking and give your child ample time to think through and respond to your question fully (this means allowing her to finish, too!). As your child responds to your questions, maintain a positive, healthy body language that allows for an open atmosphere. Head nods and "uh-hmms" can show you are tuned in. If you are unclear about what your child is saying, or if you need additional information, try clarifying, summarizing, or paraphrasing. When it comes to youth sports, especially with some of the inherent risks involved (i.e. sports burnout, supplement abuse, etc.) it's important to develop strong communication skills with your child. Open-ended questions will help you build stronger relationships and help you prevent (or quickly address) potential problems your child may be experiencing.