Talking to your kids is a crucial part of their development, and it’s important to communicate with them in a way that fosters healthy relationships and encourages open communication. But unfortunately, sometimes we confuse talking to our children with talking at our children.
Talking to them includes both giving information and listening to their responses. However, talking at them is dictating and one one. Obviously, the later is more disruptive and the former more ideal, but this can be hard to do when we are the parents and have a message to send to our children.
Some things that stand in our way are as follows:
- Our own upbringing – Many of us were reared in an authoritative household where when the adult spoke, the child listened. Any form of self expression was considered talking back. It’s important to consider that what worked for our parents won’t necessarily work for this new generation. Furthermore, if we are honest, we may find that that style of parenting also didn’t work for us, we just couldn’t do anything about it at the time.
- We have other responsibilities – We might have work obligations, other children, or relationship problems to navigate. We must learn how to balance talking to our children with our other obligations in life.
- We have our own pride/ego – Sometimes we just don’t want to admit that children know as much if not, more than us or that they have a right to challenge us. Rest assured, that that is an aspect of our own insecurity and not the needs of the childs.
Here are some tips on how to talk to your kids, not at them:
- Be present: When your child wants to talk, give them your undivided attention. Put down your phone, turn off the TV, and make eye contact with them. This shows your child that you are fully engaged and ready to listen.
- Use age-appropriate language: Tailor your language to your child’s age and developmental level. Speak in terms they can understand and use examples that are relevant to their experiences.
- Listen actively: Active listening involves not only hearing what your child is saying, but also understanding the meaning behind their words. Encourage your child to express their thoughts and feelings, and validate their emotions.
- Respond with empathy: Responding with empathy shows your child that you understand how they feel and that their feelings are important. Acknowledge their emotions and offer support and encouragement.
- Avoid criticism and judgment: Avoid criticizing or judging your child’s thoughts or feelings. This can make them feel defensive and less likely to communicate with you in the future.
- Offer guidance and support: Provide guidance and support to your child without taking over the conversation. Encourage them to come up with their own solutions and offer your support in helping them implement them.
- Use positive reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior and positive communication. Praise your child when they communicate effectively and positively, and encourage them to continue to do so.
By following these tips, you can create a positive environment for communication with your children and build strong, healthy relationships with them.
If you need additional help, help is available.