Communication is the number one tool that a parent can have. This keeps the door open for children and teens to be able to discuss any problems that they may encounter throughout their impressionable years. All parents hope that their child will come to them for advice or to share their troubles, fears, joys, or opinions. To accomplish this, parents must be able to communicate in a non-threatening manner that makes a child feel like they are heard.
Listen to More Than the Words
Listening means more than hearing the words being said. Listening is stopping what you are doing, making eye contact and understanding the message. To fully hear, you must listen to the body language being spoken. Children are not always capable of telling parents what needs to be said but they often speak volumes with their body. Learn your child’s body language to open more lines of communication.
Feelings Are More Important Than Words
It can be difficult to express how you feel because you do not want to hurt feelings or your own feeling could be hurt. This can be a problem with communication as a parent. Parents have the most difficult job of all, they must know and understand their own feelings while trying to understand and relate to the feeling of their children. Children often hide their feeling because of shame, guilt, or fear. Parents should work to communicate with their child in a positive way to avoid these negative feelings. This will help children feel more comfortable sharing how they truly feel.
Do Not Judge What a Child Says or Thinks
Start with a positive. No one wants to feel judged by negative comments and advice. People want to be heard and understood. When a parent is about to open a line of communication, leading with a positive statement or fact about the child and the situation is the best practice. When leading with a positive statement the parent is reinforcing there is good to be seen in the child and that all judgment will be withheld.
Take a Break if Needed
If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable do not be afraid to explain that you, the parent, need a minute to process the situation. It is okay to delay communication while a parent gets mentally prepared for what lies ahead. When you are ready to approach the conversation calmly and positively is when communication should begin. Try to encourage problem-solving skills with the child so they will learn new ideas for future endeavors.
Change Your Point of View
Many parents are used to processing and communicating with adults, who have had years of practice. Sometimes they fail to keep in mind that children do not have the same communication skills as adults. They talk to children and expect them to understand without question. On this same note, parents do not stop to process the information from the child’s point of view. Parents could communicate more efficiently if they change their point of view and look at the information from the child’s eyes.