Parents have a lot to think about, which means that sometimes, no matter what the subject matter might be, conversations we have with our children can be kept intentionally light and uncomplicated. In this way, we can get on with the next task we have to do and keep on schedule. The problem is, of course, that although that might work in terms of time-keeping and getting things done, it’s not so great during those times when the conversation does need to be deeper.
With that in mind, it’s crucial to know how to communicate well with your children no matter what the subject matter might be. Read on for some hints and tips.
Listen With Your Whole Body
As a parent, if you tune in to your child as much as you can, you’ll often be able to sense when they need to talk about something. When this is the case, make sure you always give them your full attention and listen with your whole body. This might sound strange, even impossible, but it can – and should – be done.
This begins with you facing your child and making good eye contact. They will know they have your complete attention then, and they will feel more comfortable speaking, knowing you are listening and that they won’t have to repeat themselves. To make the message even stronger, you can even tilt your head, and for small children, getting down on your knees or sitting by them, so you are at their level can work well too. In this way, you are listening with your whole body, and your child is sure to pick up on this and feel more confident when telling you whatever it is they need to say.
Pick Up on the Emotion
Some children find it hard to put their thoughts into words. Some may even require specialist child speech pathology insights because they don’t communicate verbally. However, this doesn’t mean that they are not able to communicate at all, and it is this that is crucial for parents to understand.
Words are not essential for communication, at least not when it comes to your children. They can be feeling something intensely, and as a parent, you need to be able to pick up on that. If they seem upset, angry, frustrated, bored, or anything else, use the information that you can gather when speaking to them. Tell them you know how they feel, and name the emotion or feeling so they know you’re telling the truth. Acknowledge those feelings and never try to undermine them. Just because you wouldn’t feel like that, or you think it’s a silly thing to be worried or upset about, that doesn’t take away from the fact that your child is certainly feeling that way.
The best thing to do is pick up on the emotion, acknowledge it, and help the child through it, even if it’s not something you had even considered problematic before. If you do belittle their feelings, they will be much less likely to come to you with issues in the future, and they will still feel afraid or concerned nonetheless – they will just have no one to talk to about it.
Encourage Proactive Thinking
Sometimes you won’t know how to help your child because you’ve never had to be in that particular situation before. Sometimes you will disagree with your child over something. In both of these cases, the key is to encourage your child to think proactively. Ask them what they think should happen or what they would like to happen. Ask them what changes can be made to help them.
If you don’t know what to do for the best, this information from your child might help to point you in the right direction. If you are having a disagreement, you can then put forward your ideas, and between you both, you can come to a compromise.
By encouraging your children to create their own solution to an issue they are facing, you are not only acknowledging the problem, but you are also helping them to see that there are different potential solutions open to them. This is an important lesson for life; they will always come up against challenges and obstacles, but if they know there are ways around everything with some dedicated thinking, they will be more confident to move ahead.