From the moment they are born, kids begin to feel things that they communicate in their own way and in responding, the parents also communicate back to them. But over time, as the excitement of having them dwindles and the reality of raising them sets in, communication suffers. Most times, everybody is talking but nobody is communicating.
Communication between parents and kids is having conversations that mentally stimulate and help to develop both parties emotionally. It also helps to build and strengthen the bond between kids and their parents. I can imagine someone rolling their eyes and thinking, “but I don’t have time for small talk.” I understand, and I am not saying it is easy to make this happen, but if you’ve been around me for a while, you’d know by now that I am for team “give it a try” and “baby steps”. So, don’t worry. If you are willing to put in some effort and take some baby steps, I believe you will get it right.
Also note that communication is not always verbal, and we’d be looking into both verbal and non-verbal communication in this piece. Here are some tips to help you communicate effectively with your kids irrespective of your schedule.
Recognize and Acknowledge Their Feelings: We all have different emotions but the difference between adults and kids is that we’ve had these emotions longer than they have. Did their pet die? Did they fail a test? Lose a tooth? Or, did their best friend find a new friend? Ask them questions to help them figure out the emotions behind each event that happens in their lives and acknowledge each feeling.
Get Them to Talk and Don’t Interrupt: If you’ve had a long day and your kid wants to share the events of their day with you, chances are you already know how the story ends. But to help them become better communicators, you have to listen. Kids watch and imitate you; you can’t train them to listen if you don’t listen to them. You can also get them to talk by starting the conversation and seeking their response. If you think your child is lying, don’t attack them; instead, ask open-ended questions that allow them to say more and explain themselves so you can intervene accordingly.
Use and Observe Body Language: Understanding your child’s body language will help you communicate better with them. Through their body language you can tell if they are comfortable in a place or with a person or not. With this information, you can now proceed to have a verbal conversation to verify your assumptions. Also, as a parent, kids can read your body language so be sure you’re passing the right messages because unlike you, they may not verify why you are being the way you are. If your kid takes their bike out against your wish and they get hurt in the process causing you to rush home in the middle of work or spend an unbudgeted amount on getting them treated, don’t create a hedge of fire around yourself with your attitude. They may miss the point. Instead, make them know you are displeased with them and you might need a moment to let off the steam. You are human; they’d understand as they grow.
Make Time for Them: You can only make communicating with your kids happen if you make time for it. Yes, you’re busy, but having conversations on your way to pick up groceries, on a drive back from school, on a walk with the dog, or while cooking can help strengthen your bond and develop their communication skills. Above all, kids need to feel safe and secure and having a strong relationship with them where communication is encouraged helps them to feel safe and valued.
Finally, having a relationship where trivia issues can be discussed is a foundation for big and serious issues to be shared without fear of being ignored, disbelieved, or silenced. If you make time to improve communication with your kids, I can assure you that your worries would be reduced because you can be sure that they’d tell you anything and everything.
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