Too often we underestimate the power of a touch,
a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment,
or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Communicating with our children can be a very difficult task at times. You often feel like they are not listening to you. And they feel like you are not listening to what they have to say. Good listening and communications skills are essential tools for successful parenting. Your child’s feelings, views and opinions have worth, and you must make sure that you make the time to sit down and listen openly and discuss things with them honestly.
Reacting vs. Responding
It seems to be a fairly natural tendency to react rather than to respond. You make quick judgments based on your own feelings and experiences. However, responding means that you are being receptive to your child’s feelings and emotions and allowing them to express themselves openly and honestly without fear of repercussion.
By reacting, you send your child the message that their feelings and opinions are invalid. But by responding and asking questions about why the child feels the way they do, you open up a dialog that allows them to discuss their feelings further and freely. This also affords you an opportunity to better understanding of where they’re coming from. Responding also gives you a chance to work out or sort out a solution or a plan of action with your child’s input, that either of you might not have come up with on your own. Your child will also appreciate the fact that maybe you do really do understand how they feel.
Listening is not a skill that comes naturally to most people. You must work at it. But, it is absolutely crucial in these situations to give your child your full and undivided attention. Put down your newspaper, turn your smart phone off (or at least face down), stop doing dishes, or turn off the television so that you can hear the full situation and make it a point to make eye contact with your child. Remain calm, be inquisitive, and after you have collected all of your information, then it is time to offer potential solutions to the problem at hand.
Don’t discourage your child from feeling upset, angry, or frustrated. Your initial instinct may be to say or do something to steer our child away from embracing their emotions, from how they are really feeling about a situation, but this can be a detrimental tactic. Again, listen to your child, ask questions to find out why they are feeling that way, and then offer potential solutions to help alleviate the bad feeling.
Just as with adults, your children have feelings and experience some very difficult situations. The times continue to change, and life is not easy or simple for them. By actively listening and participating with our child as they talk about things, it demonstrates to them that you do care, that you do want to help and that you have lived through similar experiences of your own that they can draw upon.
Remember: Respond – don’t react!!
For more information see www.martinamcgowan.com