The 9 Golden Keys To Communication
Copyright 2006 Karen Fusco Learn to understand what your child is trying to tell you. The breakdown in communication between Mother and Child doesn’t begin with the onset of adolescence, as we would like to believe. From the time your children are infants, they are trying to get you to understand their wants, needs, feelings, and ideas. The following tips apply whether you’re a Mom attempting to communicate with your teenagers or infants. It started way back with trying to decipher your child’s baby-talk, right? But trust me, this stuff works. If you try these rules of engagement, the relationships you have with your children will be forever transformed and your daily life will feel tremendously enhanced.
1. Listen. Eliminate all distractions if possible. Having an environment conducive to listening is very important in effective communication. Your child should feel that they have your undivided attention and you want to feel the same. You will not always have the opportunity to control the volume in your environment. You still have the option of stepping away with your child to a quieter space.
2. Be Open. If you come to the table with preconceived notions and judgments, believe me, your child will pick up on them instinctively and communication will instantly deteriorate. Come into the conversation with an open mind so you can actually hear and be in tune with what it is your child is trying to tell you. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree or give-in, it just means you have given free space for communication.
3. Validate. Everyone wants to know that their feelings, ideas and opinions are important and valued. So, while your child is talking to you or expressing themselves, take a moment to repeat what they have said and ask them, ‘Did I get that right?’ Then, describe some of the underlying feelings they may have based on what they’ve expressed. If you’re dealing with a crying baby or toddler, the same thing applies. Let them know that you understand why they’re upset, you like them to be happy again and that they will be okay. Validation of your child’s feelings is extremely significant in building their self-confidence and self-esteem.
4. Compromise. Contrary to popular belief, compromising doesn’t have to be a tug-of-war. After you listen to each other’s perspective and communicate lovingly, offer some ways to negotiate with your child so that both of your needs are met, if possible. As a responsible parent, there will often be times when you shouldn’t allow any of the things your child has requested. Instead you can suggest some safe alternatives that are healthy and acceptable for them to choose from. In return, ask your child to commit to providing you with some of your needs. This is especially related to conversations that Moms have with their teenagers. Teens are usually struggling with their self-identity and independence. Find a balance between understanding your child’s needs and negotiating without risking responsibility. Depending on your child’s maturity, you can determine the extent of space you give them to make decisions.
5. Body Language. A Mom’s body language can send the toughest gangster into a fit of tears. Children quickly become sensitive to their Mother’s look of disapproval or disappointment. If you want the conversation to go well, make sure your body language is positive and welcoming. Always maintain eye-contact with your children while you are conversing. It teaches good communication habits and it states that you are serious about what you are saying. Avoid crossing your arms and legs as it is extremely symbolic of defensiveness and stubbornness. Sit up straight and look attentive so your children will know you are focused on what they are saying. And please, whatever you do… DON”T roll your eyes unless you want to experience the boomerang affect. Children will mimic how you deal with stress in challenging times. So, Moms, be selective and aware of your body language when communicating with your child.
6. Tone. Screaming at your children turns them off and shuts them down. If they experience it at home, they will carry it wherever they go. Try to model healthy behavior during challenging conversations by keeping your volume at a peaceful level. This will show your child that you’re still in control and are not reactive. Your tone not only sets the mood of the conversation, but also impacts how your children will interact and behave in society. So, speak to your child in the way that you would want them to speak to others – with love and respect.
7. Attitude. Nobody wants to interact with a person who has a bad attitude. The same thing goes for your children. They will not want to have a discussion with you if they feel your attitude is poor or sense tension. Try to release all the negative emotions and ideas you have with the situation first so you can speak and listen with a clear head and loving heart.
8. Honesty. Teach your kids to be honest by being honest with them. Besides, your child’s memory is far sharper than your own! When you make promises, make sure you’re able to hold up your end of the bargain. If you’re dishonest with your children, you encourage them to not only be dishonest with you but to other people as well. The subject of honesty between Mother and Child is a delicate one. You must use your best judgment here. Children trust their Moms more than anyone else on earth from the time they take in their first breath of air. As a Mom, you have a responsibility to be delicate with your child’s trust and confidence. When it is broken on your part, they will seek out ways to repair the hurt that may not be productive or safe.
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