Practical Communication Tips for Parents
By Laxmi Parmeswar
Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between you and your children. But parenting is hard work and maintaining a good connection with children can be challenging, especially since parents are dealing with many other pressures.
Here are some tips to consider…
- Notice times when your children are most likely to talk (at bed time or when you are taking them somewhere, at dinner time, etc.) and then start a conversation.
- You cannot have an important conversation with your child when the TV is on. Turn the TV and cell phone off.
- Initiate conversations by sharing what you have been thinking about rather than beginning a conversation with a question.
- Listen to your children’s point of view even if it is difficult to hear. You don’t need to agree but you must listen and try to understand them.
- Don’t create a recurring pattern of being too critical of your children. They will tune you out and stop listening to you.
- Let your child know that you care about what’s happening in their lives. Pay attention to your child’s interests- their favorite music, TV shows, books, their activities, etc.
- Soften strong reactions; kids will tune you out if you appear angry or defensive.
- Express your opinion without putting down theirs; acknowledge that it’s okay to disagree.
- Resist arguing about who is right. Instead say, “I know you disagree with me, but this is what I think.”
- Focus on your child’s feelings rather than your own during your conversation.
- Talk to your children–don’t lecture, criticize, threaten, or say hurtful things
- Kids learn from their own choices. As long as the consequences are not dangerous, don’t feel you have to always step in.
- Realize your children may test you by telling you a small part of what is bothering them. Listen carefully to what they say, encourage them to talk, and they may share the rest of the story.
- Ask your children what they may want or need from you in a conversation, such as advice, simply listening, help in dealing with feelings, or help solving a problem.
- Kids learn by imitating. Most often, they will follow your lead in how they deal with anger, solve problems, and work through difficult feelings.