As a parent, there are times when you feel that communicating with your child is one of the most difficult things to do. He doesn’t understand you and you don’t understand him. You blame it on the generation gap, the advent of social media, and other outside factors. Eventually, both of you end up frustrated. But did you consider the act of communication, or how you communicate, as the problem?
It is said that good communication is the key to building self-esteem as well as mutual respect. In order to do just that and to avoid instances where you and your child argue over what you said and what he said, here are five guidelines that can help you build good communication with your child.
It is important to let your child know that you are interested and involved when you communicate with each other. Turn off all distracting devices such as the television and the computer. Avoid taking phone calls or answering text messages once he starts talking. Stop what you were previously doing and place all your attention and focus on him. This sends him the message that what he has to say is important and that you are eager to know more.
You won’t be able to understand the situation if you don’t listen to what your child is actually saying and what he is trying to say. Show him that you are listening by nodding and smiling at certain points, or by affirming him through one-liners. Don’t interrupt him when he is trying to tell a story, and just allow him to finish. It takes a lot of effort and hard work to actively and genuinely listen.
Reacting too much or too little will not help or improve the situation. It is always best to remain objective, to gather all the important information, and to consider both sides before sharing your reaction or advice. You can even ask your child to share how he would react, or what he thought your reaction would be. If you feel strongly about something, it is best to regain your cool before sharing what you have to say. Also, always remember to consider how your child will feel about what you have to say.
As parents, you would always want to offer a helping hand to your child – no matter what the situation. But keep in mind that it is also important that your child develops a sense of ownership for his actions. You can offer assistance by planning together on specific steps he can take to reach a solution. This shows him that both of you are in it together and that his ideas matter.
Always find ways to remind your child that your communication lines remain open. Praise and acknowledge him for sharing with you. Reassure him that he can always approach you even if you seem busy. This allows him to realize that your door is always open and that you can always make time for him. Eventually, you and your child will communicate as often as both of you like – making it less of a burden and more of a bonding session.