How to Encourage Healthy Talk with Your Kids

7:00 AM

I am a busy career mom, I admit. My husband is even busier. With the busy lifestyles of parents like us nowadays, there is always a chance that we missed an opportunity to talk with our children in a healthy and effective manner.

By healthy and effective, I mean, that as parent and child - both could develop a quality communication line within a comfortable balance of trust and respect for each other.  It is frustrating for the parents if they cannot deepen their conversation with their children once the child closes himself to communication. And sometimes, lack of time from the parents could hinder the healthy development. Commonly, it starts with the child's frustration of expressing himself freely because of inattentive parents. Or his worries that he will not be understood. Or fears of anger and resentment from his parents. In such cases, the feeling of not getting across without drama is the common theme. Which we should not suffer if there is a way to bridge this gap.

It may not be my problem at the moment, but as a parent myself and once a child who also struggles when to tell or not to tell, I am in search like most of the parents perhaps on ways of developing  an  effective and healthy communication with our child.

For a start, here's a few situations where we can assess how our communication style is. There is always an effective way and it may not be so common to many since we may be just copying how our parents did it then. Is the tradition handed to us effective enough? Let me illustrate. 

Situation #1. The Busy Daddy

Son: Johnny pushed me so...Daddy do you hear me?
Daddy checking his email: I can hear you. Go on.
Son: So, I pushed him, too. Then he hit me. Are you listening?
Daddy (still looking on his phone and laptop): I'm listening to every word.
Son: No. You're not!
Daddy: I can listen and check my phone. Go on.
Son: Oh, forget it!

It is discouraging to get through to parents who only say they listen but their attention is not 100%. Instead of half-listening, listen with full attention.

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Son: Johnny pushed me so...Daddy do you hear me?
Daddy checking his email on his phone will bring down on the table and closes his laptop
Son: So, I pushed him, too. Then he hit me. He's mean!
Daddy continues to listen, not saying a word but with encouraging expression.
Son: Know what? I'm going to play with Stephen from now on. He doesn't go around pushing and punching people.

It's so much easier to tell troubles to parents who is really listening. The parent doesn't need to say anything, a sympathetic silence may be all a child needs.

Situation #2. The Angry Mommy
Daughter: Somebody stole my pencil.
Mommy: Are you sure you didn't lose it?
Daughter: I didn't. It was on my desk when I went to the restroom.
Mommy: Well, what do you expect if you leave your things lying around. This isn't the first time you lost your things. I always tell you, keep your valuables in your desk. The trouble with you is you never listen.
Daughter: Oh, just leave me alone!
Mommy: Is that so?

Sometimes, questioning, blaming or advising her is not the best solution. Acknowledge her woes with caring attitude will result to different ending.

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Daughter: Somebody stole my pencil.
Mommy: Oh?
Daughter: I left it on my desk when I went to the restroom and somebody took it.
Mommy: Mmmm...
Daughter: That's the third time I lost my pencil.
Mommy: Uhhh!
Daughter: I know. From now on that I'll leave my desk, I'm going to hide my pencil in my desk.
Mommy: I see.

Those simple acknowledging words and a caring gesture from the parent will encourage a child to explore her own thoughts and feelings. And possibly, she can come up with her own solutions.

So, dear parents, learn how to talk so your kids will listen and listen so kids will talk. By small positive changes in our manner, you'll never know how rewarding it will be as you raise your child positively.

For now, let's remember these simple ways to encourage your child to a healthy talk with you:

  1. Listen with full attention, instead of half-listening.
  2. Acknowledge your kid's woes with encouraging words like Oh...ummm...coupled with caring gestures instead of questions and advices.

Now, do you find these tips helpful? Leave us a comment below.

Till my next Mums' tips!      

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