Chatter on Children
Communication – Key to Effective Parenting
Exasperated parents often tell child counselors that they have almost no communication with their children. Once a child feels that she is growing up, especially at the onset of adolescence, she will start to distance herself from you and begin to talk more to her peers. Mostly parents ignore this because they feel that it is a part of growing up. True, it is very much a part of growing up, but ignoring this initial distancing will create larger problems. A communication gap might eventually turn into an emotional gap which is tougher to bridge. During the growing years children might retreat into a shell when at home or around adults, especially parents.
This is the age when children use phrases like “no one understands me!” and “I do not want you to touch my things!” most often. At this age children are vulnerable. Parents generally have little patience. They give up attempts at talking after initial non productive attempts. The important thing is to be persistent.
Good communication is an essential parenting skill. It helps develop a positive parent – child relationships. Remember that communication is a two way process, and you are responsible for getting your message across as a communicator. While you are going to talk and get your point across, be prepared to listen to your child. Accept what she has to say. Things to Keep in Mind while Talking to your Child Choose the right time – Initiating a conversation when your child is watching television or busy text messaging is not a good idea. Chances are that no heed will be paid to what you have to say. Whenever you want to talk to your child make sure she is in the mood to listen and there is nothing to distract her. Instead of conversing at home, go out together for a walk or for coffee. This will put you both at ease and talking will be easy.
Keep your emotions under control – While talking to your child there will be times when you will not like what you hear. Try to be as composed on the outside as possible even if you are boiling on the inside. If you scold your child when she tells you something, she will shrink away from sharing in future. Anger acts as a negative reinforcement. Refrain from it and be soothing and reassuring. Abstain from imposing your ideas – Parents tend impose their thoughts consciously or unconsciously. This thwarts the whole purpose of a conversation. Instead of enforcing your beliefs on your child be patient and explain your side. Chances are that your child will sooner or later listen to you and also agree with you. Agree with your child's opinion on what you think is right.
A democratic approach is always better than an authoritative one. Be attentive – While conversing with your child be all ears and try not to let anything distract you. Maintain constant eye contact and be interested in everything your child has to say. Avoid answering calls, switching on the television or flipping through a magazine. Be a good listener and give your child the message that all she is sharing with you is important and you appreciate it. Put in words of encouragement – When your child shares with you make sure you thank her. This will not only give your child the positive message that you are receptive but will also make her more open and she will talk to you more. Encouraging sentences like “I am so glad you shared that information” or “I loved talking to you. Let us do this more often” will inspire your child to continue talking to you. Appraise the fact that your daughter has disclosed to you things which she might have considered highly personal.
Remember, you can also invite conversation; it shows you still care. Maintain respect at all times – Avoid putting your child down in any way. If she admits to having done something which you find unfavorable, do not insult her. While conversing allow free sharing and expressing of ideas and words. Keep your cool at all times. Find solutions together through brainstorming. When you reach a solution ask two simple questions: “Are you willing….” and “Will you make a commitment to…” Regular communication will boost your child's confidence and her trust in you. It will also help you develop strong bonds of understanding.
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