Three Secrets to Understanding Your Kid’s Perspective
“If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.” – C.G. Jung
One of the most important factors in successful communication with your kids is to understand their points of view. The way you listen (and validate your kid), how you express yourself clearly, and how you teach your children to “use their words” are all great ways to communicate successfully.
Many times,however, communication failures are due to errors in expectations and assumptions that significantly influence your expectations! All this may happen before you’ve said a word, or even approached your child.
Let’s focus on three strategies that will help you see your child’s perspective. I will emphasize the importance of checking your assumptions and expectations, as well as keeping your child’s developmental level in mind.
Your children are as skillful as you are in making quick judgments and assuming things about their parents, which often leads them to expect unreasonable outcomes. When you are a good role model through how you communicate, you teach your kids how to avoid making false accusations.
Let’s take the secrecy out of understanding your kid’s perspective…Secret #1:
1- Check your own assumptions
Before you make an accusation or statement about a sensitive issue or a concern, make sure you have the facts.
Often times, because parents know their children so well, they make assumptions about how the child may feel or what he/she may have done. However, when parents are not accurate in their assumptions, the child often feels wrongly accused of doing something. These times are when lines of communication become damaged.
The best way to prevent this communication issue from happening is to verify your assumptions before you make a statement about something sensitive. Allow room for possibility of variables and coincidences. Check facts. Don’t assume the worst.
Four-year-old Alice has a problem with cleaning up after play; it’s been an issue lately. She needs constant support to follow through and get her room cleaned.
One day, Alice had a friend over for a play date. When they ran into the kitchen for snack time, her mom noticed the living room was scattered with toys that should have been put away before snack time. Earlier, she’d seen Alice’s friend cleaning up and putting away some toys, so she turned to her daughter and said “Alice, you know you’re supposed to put away the toys in the living room before snack time. So, no snacks for you until you finish cleaning up!”
But what Alice’s Mom didn’t realize was that her daughter had put all the toys away. The toys scattered around the living room had been taken out by Alice’s friend (after Alice had picked them up) to find something she had brought from home! With just a few words, Alice’s mother replaced a wonderful opportunity to praise her daughter’s compliance, with a falsely based, accusatory remark.
Instead of assuming the worst and accusing the daughter, Alice’s mother could have said, “I see some toys left behind in the living room.” This benign comment states only the facts. She didn’t make any accusations or place blame. Then, and this is important, she could have allowed some time for the party responsible to make the right choice and speak up. If she still didn’t get any results, she could have added, “Our rule is that toys need to be put away before snack time.” Then, to gather more facts, she could have asked, “Who took out the toys that still need to be put away?”
At this point, if neither child took responsibility, Mom could have asked both kids to cooperate and clean up together before snack time.
Chances are that Alice would have already volunteered information about what happened. The important outcome was that Alice didn’t feel accused, instead, she felt trusted.
This is the first in a 3-part series discussing the 3 secrets of understanding your kid’s perspective. In our next article we will talk about “Evaluating Your Expectations”.
Dr. Sherkat is a parent strategist who is available to do Parent Education Workshops, either Private or PTA Sponsored Classes.
Contact her at 425-772-6698.