The key to a great relationship with anyone, and especially your kids, is good communication. Here’s three questions parents sometimes ask about how to better talk to their children. Perhaps you’ve had similar thoughts. You can put these helpful hints into practice today and experience greater communication with your kids.
Talk So They’ll Listen
Q: My children just won’t listen. And the more I tell them I need them to listen, the less they do. Help!
A: Parenting expert Nancy Samalin has great suggestions:
If [parents] want to be heard by their children, they talk less. The greater the amount of words that come out of the mouth, the more children’s ears and mouths close…
Be sure to get your child’s attention. Your child needs to listen to you with his or her eyes, since nonverbal communication accounts for 55 percent of a message.
Let your child know you’re only going to be talking about 1 ½ minutes. Look at your watch and keep time.
Don’t give a big answer to your child’s little question.
Use the “one-word rule.” That’s right, say one word and no more.
Change Your Approach
Q: I get frustrated with my kids at times. How do I change my communication responses from negative to nurturing?
A: First, clearly identify the communication patterns you’re currently employing. Begin recording your conversations at home. Then do this:
Write out each of these verses about communication from the book of Proverbs on separate index cards: 10:19; 12:18; 14:29; 16:24; 17:9; 19:11; 29:20.
On the back of each card write a statement describing how you see yourself complying with that verse. Make it specific and personal.
Carry the cards with you for the next 30 days, and read each verse aloud several times a day.
Note how you change and how your child changes. When you employ toxic verbal weapons, such as critical and fault-finding comments, in your communication, you’re standing against your children. But when your words are full of nurture and encouragement, you are standing with them.
Q: Someone suggested that we nurture our children. I’m not sure what that means. Any ideas?
A: Nurturing messages are those that convey to your child something good about herself. These positive messages don’t increase the child’s value—she is already priceless in God’s eyes. But nurturing messages increase your child’s value in her own eyes, thus opening the door for learning, growth, maturity, and independence.
Nurturing shows that you believe in your child’s capacity to learn, change, and grow. Nurturing shows that you are aware of the kind of picture you want your child to have of herself. Nurturing accentuates the positive.
It’s easier for most parents to affirm positive behavior than to deal with negative behavior in a positive way. Continually remind yourself to convey nurturing affirmations and compliments:
You treat your friends very nicely.
Your schoolwork has really improved.
You’re a very special person to me.
From The One-Minute Counselor for Parents by H. Norman Wright