The most important aspect of any relationship is communication. Miscommunication causes a lot of misunderstanding. When your children are very young it is the best time to set up a very good communication system between you and your children. Effective parent child communication is of great importance at every stage.
As a parent, you do not want them to hide things from you. Your aim is to be involved in their life and their choices or decisions. Maintaining good communication with your children is an investment which will benefit you even when your children are grown-ups.
You need to start early – the earlier you start communicating effectively with your children, the easier it is going to be. As soon as a baby is born, he/she is aware of who his /her carer is. You can communicate with them when you play with them- for example when you play hide-and-seek or any other game. When you talk to them, talk in full sentences. For example say “do you want milk?” instead of just “milk”. This will encourage them to talk in full sentences as well. Also, give them choices – “do you want this or that?” This will encourage them to make small decisions .
How was your day?
As your child grows up, communicate with them according their age and understanding. Whenever they have any questions or curiosity about anything – answer it honestly. Do not discourage them by saying “stop asking me questions” If you are in the middle of something, just say “let me tell you later “. This will teach children the importance of communication. Once they start going to a pre school or primary/secondary school, you can ask them “how was your day?” . Encourage them to tell you the highlights of the day. Tell them yours too ! They will feel involved in your life too!
Kids love secrets. Most likely they would like to tell you secrets if they did something harmless but naughty at school. Tell them your secrets- make it up – something fun and child friendly! Talking in different ways with your kids encourages communication.
Sometimes it may seem like a chore – but doing this continuously will be very helpful especially when you really need your child to talk to you – for example if they are being bullied or harassed at school. Or when you feel that they are mingling with rough or wrong crowd. If your kids tell you something in confidence – like an embarrassing moment they had – keep it a secret- don’t blurt it out to the other parents. Tell your spouse about in private- and not in front of the child.
From an early age encourage your children to discuss any issues they might be having at school. Try to resolve any problems they might be having. Give them options – if they are not happy with the solution you have provided them with. If they have got a dilemma about anything you can steer them in the right direction.
Tap their feelings
If your child discusses an incident with you in school, ask them how did they feel about it? Try to gauge their feelings on it. If they did not feel good about it, try to soothe their feelings about it. Next time they go through a difficult situation, they will discuss their feelings about the situation without you having to ask about it.
Praise them when they give you some important information. This will encourage them to do it again.
When they talk, however trivial it is, LISTEN! You never know what you might learn! If they are doing something wrong, you will know early on, which would give you a chance to guide or steer them in the right direction!
Do not close doors to anything
Do not close doors to any kind of communication or discussion with your kids – whether you agree with them or not. Kids too have the right to express their opinion!
In case, they are curious about the human anatomy, do not shy away from the topic- try to answer their questions truthfully. If you feel it is not age appropriate – tell them ” I will tell you about it at the right time”- keep the doors open. Don’t say something like “you shouldn’t talk about this – you are too young” otherwise they might try to satisfy their curiosity in incorrect ways.
If they are curious about cigarettes or alcohol- discuss it with them. If you try to avoid these topics then they will get more curious and might be tempted to even try it before they are 16 years of age. Even if you are a non-smoker or a non-alcoholic – always discuss this topic with them rather than forcing them to change their mind. Correct them if you feel they are wrong but don’t tell them off.
Do not say things like “this topic is not up for discussion” – if it is something you do not agree with tell them the reasons as to why you are saying what you are saying .
Try to understand their perspective
If you want your children to communicate with you and keep you involved in their life, it is very important that you try to understand their perspective at least sometimes. If you refuse to understand their point of view every single time, they may stop communicating with you just to avoid an argument !
If you are wrong admit it
If you are wrong or you have made a mistake, you should admit to your children that you have made a mistake. Think of all the times when you pointed out their mistakes. Let go of your ego !
Remember, the goal of every parent is to be best friends with their children ! This can be achieved only if you treat them as an individual and with respect – just like you would treat your friends!
Are you your child’s best friend? Have you got any tips or tricks on how to communicate effectively with children? Please share via comment box below.
Happy New Year !