How to Communicate Effectively With Your Kids
I’d like to offer some practical parenting solutions that will help you be heard and not just feel heard.
First of all, what your kids don’t realize is that your were a kid once. You’ve already lived through many of the troubles and challenges faced by children, teenagers, and young adults.
You may have even made some mistakes and learned from them.
Your kids would benefit so much by realizing that they don’t have to do it on their own. You want them to hear your perspective for good reasons. Your wisdom, experience and recommendations offer valuable guidance.
Relate, don’t debate
Of course, telling them, “I know what I’m talking about, I’ve been in your shoes, I was young once…” doesn’t always work as well as you would hope.
Remember when you were a kid, you needed to experience some things yourself and not put much value on what your own parents tried to warn you about, right? After all, we just confirmed that you were a kid once. And you probably remember your parents lost credibility when they told you, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
Five tools parents and kids can use to communicate more effectively:
- Be firm, yet gentle.
- Use a soft tone and approach wearing a hint of a smile when you want to say something important and serious.
- Why does this work? It lowers your child’s defenses.
- Get their undivided attention.
- Check your timing; try not to interrupt if your child is engaged in an activity, Prevent distractions by making sure the TV is off, a program is on pause, your cell phone is on silent, etc.
- Make eye contact and get to the child’s level.
- Why does this work? If your kid is not attending, then he/she won’t really hear you.
- Make it short and sweet.
- When talking to kids under the age of 12, please use short, clear, concrete phrases, no matter how intelligent they are.
- Use examples to make your point.
- When talking to your ‘tweens or teens, use vocabulary appropriate to them. Don’t patronize them. Speak at their levels, but be clear and concise.
- Why does this work? By communicating in a clear and concise manner, you have a better chance of keeping your kids’ attention.
- Check your “assumptions”.
- Before you say anything, make sure your assumptions about your kids actions, or a problem, are correct. Do some fact checking.
- Why is this important? Because if you make a statement to your kid based on false assumption, your kid will tune you out before you even finish the sentence.
- If your assumptions are incorrect and you wrongly accuse your kid of something, you lose credibility. Here’s a clear symptom to look for in this situation: You may get interrupted by a whine that goes something like this, “No – wait – but….Mommmmm, you just don’t understand…”
- Show respect and empathy. If you want to approach a sensitive subject or a sensitive kid, consider the following modifications to show that you respect the child and empathize with how he or she feels.
- Provide your kid some privacy, respect his or her space, and maybe talk in a place where he/she is most comfortable.
- Make eye contact, but be subtle about it by sitting next to your child as opposed to face-to-face.
- Have a comfort item available for your child such as his or her favorite toy, pillow or blanket. This is not just for very young kids; often teenagers are more comfortable talking while sitting on their own beds and hugging their pillows.
- Start by telling them that you appreciate how they feel.
As a parent strategist, Dr. Sherkat has many tools to help you strengthen your parenting skills.
She speaks to various groups…you can hire her for your next parenting workshop, conference or parenting event.