6 Ways To Improve Communication With Your Kids
By Tyler Jacobson
Although kids these days are more exposed to conversational techniques than their parents were, it can still be challenging to get them to open up about what’s really going on in their lives. As a parent, you can find yourself clueless about what to do when faced with your child’s frustration or anger, especially when they refuse to talk about what’s bothering them.
Yet, knowing what our kids are going through—be it high school drama, their fears, and worries—puts you in a better position to provide guidance and support. But first, you have to know how to communicate with them. You can keep those communication lines open by trying these six different communication tricks.
Set an example worth emulating.
Communication skills are learned, and kids are often influenced by what they see and hear. They take their cue from those around them, and in most cases, that’s their parents. To improve communication with them, learn to show interest in what your kids are saying and doing, pay attention, and be non-judgmental.
Ask open-ended questions.
Dead-end questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer are good ways of killing conversations, especially if your teen is pretty reticent to start with. Instead, ask open-ended questions that encourage them to explain, share or describe what happened during the day. This way, you can build a conversation from their replies.
Be an active listener.
Becoming an active listener and really hearing what your kids are saying could lead to an improved relationship while helping to avoid conflicts and misunderstandings. Active listening involves paying attention to both your kids’ words and body language. It also involves asking questions for clarification as well as providing appropriate feedback and responses.
Seek professional help.
Sometimes, all our efforts to foster better communication with our teens can be futile, especially if our teens are already struggling before we develop strong lines of communication. If you feel that your relationship with your teen has become troubled, and you’re at your wit’s end on what to do, reaching out to the professionals for help might be a good idea.
Avoid unkind words and labels.
Do you like it when someone ridicules, shames you or calls you names? Well, neither do your children. Many parents fall into the habit of saying things like, ”You’re being such a baby,” or “You’re really annoying me right now.”
When saying this, you might think that you’re shaming your kid into behaving, but really, all you’re doing is poking holes in their self-esteem and sending a message that you don’t really care about their feelings. A better technique is to show your kids appreciation and respect, and if you do have a correction to give, do it without name-calling or other negative tactics.
Respect your kids’ conversational style.
Some kids can banter back and forth the whole day while others simply can’t stand small talk. Others love in-depth discussions while other teens loath questions that lead to weighty conversations. You’ll make more headway by learning your teen’s conversational style and working with that rather than trying to change them.
Improving communication with your kids isn’t an overnight thing. While it does require a great deal of patience and effort on both sides, the benefits are definitely worth all the hassle.