How Do I Communicate Better With My Kids ?
Posted by: Sue Atkins
How Do I Communicate Better With My Kids ?
Communication with children is essential to their relationships and to their healthy development.
Effective communication is an essential & important life skill in all aspects of our lives, from talking & listening to our partners, clients or work colleagues to communicating with our children.
During this past year, Covid 19 has put a real strain on the ways we ordinarily communicate whether it’s with our toddlers or with our preteen or teenager.
Around the world many parents are still working from home while their kids are at home too instead of in school. We’ve all had to become skilled at being flexible & coping with lots of continually changing circumstances.
I wasn’t surprised to hear the questions my clients were asking me about how to deal with their children during this challenging & highly stressful time.
From my perspective, although this year has been full of uncertainty, it also has been a year of opportunity.
I’m a great believer in using every experience to learn something & I’ve been helping parents to learn new & better ways to communicate with their kids regardless of how old they are.
One parent asked me on my
‘Don’t Stew-Ask Sue’ regular slot on my ‘Sue Atkins Parenting Show’ Podcast
‘How do I communicate better with my 3 year-old?’
Others needed help with communicating with their teenage children.
I believe that whether you are parenting a toddler, an older child or a teenager, good communication is a core part of good parenting.
Building mutual respect during the pandemic will have lasting positive effects during the pandemic and well after it is over.
When it comes to parent-child communication, there is no one size that fits all.
Parents are individuals who have their unique personalities, emotional histories and individual temperaments and so do children.
Communication styles & cultural differences around the world vary but there are some key communication skills that work no matter where you live.
Here are a few take aways to improve your connection & communication with your children.
1. Connect before you communicate.
One simple tip is to make time to connect. By simply having the intention to connect & build your relationship, rather than knock it down heavy handedly, can make a BIG difference.
Parent-child communication is more effective when you stop nagging, get into a relaxed & positive mindset & get down to your child’s level of communication. Sitting on the floor, playing or chatting at a table together, sitting on the end of their bed shows interest & that’s also great for your child’s self esteem – as kids spell love T-I-M-E
Get into the habit of asking open ended questions: ‘What are you up to?’ is a great way to open up conversations.
2. Never use physical punishment.
Kids press our buttons & wind us up. But never lash out with your child physically. Child learn to fear you which destroys connection & it creates uncertainty & if you resort to smacking what are your kids learning from you about relationships?
Parents who regularly resort to physical punishment can be guaranteed of one thing: raising a child who will most likely use the same approach with others, their brothers & sisters, kids at school or even towards you.
Of course, some kids are more challenging than others and they may make you angry, but clearly, physical punishment is not effective in the short or long run.
Check out all my resources to help you to look at alternatives to physical punishment in my blogs, on my podcasts or in my shop
3. Begin with a direct command making your voice go down not up as that sounds like a question.
Try by saying your childs name to get their attention ‘Charlie get down from the settee now’ make sure your tone of voice sounds like you mean business, is confident & assertive & your body language means it too! No half hearted begging!
You don’t have to get cross just assertive!
Instead of “Let Sandip have a turn,” say “I want you to let Sandip have a turn now.” This works well with children who want to please but don’t like being ordered. By saying “I want,” you give a reason for compliance rather than just an order. Then praise your child for sharing with Sandip.
4. Keep it simple and clear.
Whenever possible, don’t beat around the bush when you have something important to convey to your child. Be clear and concise.
Both younger children and teenagers appreciate & respond better to clear, short, precise communication.
Keep It Super Simple or KISS ?
5. Be aware of your tone of voice.
Very often it’s not what people say, but how they say it, that makes the difference. Like adults, children are more likely to be attentive & cooperative if they are spoken to in a respectful way.
Kids are watching, learning & listening to you all the time so teach them about respectful communication.
6. Don’t embarrass your children.
In the heat of the moment, we’ve all been guilty of embarrassing our kids in front of family or friends. If you do this regularly it can lead to resentment and embarrassment.
Shaming your child damages your relationship & isn’t a kind way to communicate with them.
7. Give choices.
We all like some control, even young children. So, give limited choices whenever possible, such as “Do you want to do your homework before or after your dinner?’
‘Do you want to wear your blue or your orange jumper today ?’
8. Bring The Temperature Down
If your child loses it – the louder your child shouts, the softer you respond.
Have the intention not to match the high temperature.
Name the emotion & get grounded, and go alongside your child verbally. ‘I know it’s frustrating…..’
‘How can I help?’
Sometimes just having a caring listener available will wind down the outburst.
Don’t add fuel to the fire – be the adult and have the intention to connect and defuse.
9. Give advance warning to toddlers.
It helps prepare them for leaving something they’re enjoying.
‘We are leaving soon so say good bye to the toys and to Rachel…’
10. Let your child know that you are interested in them & their day.
Pick a time when you’re not doing something else or are going to be interrupted & chat about how their day went. Sitting & eating together regularly builds in a natural time to connect & communicate.
11. Advice for parent-teenager communication.
Remember, teens are forming both their emotional and physical identities and independence, and are changing, so be sensitive to their need for independence and respect their boundaries.
Ask them why they like that band, that style of dressing or that app.
Become curious not judgemental as judgement build walls not bridges between you.
But still be clear and direct about what you believe is appropriate behaviour at home.
12. Do activities with your children.
Kids spell love T-I-M-E & they love it when you play a game or play a sport with them. It also opens up the opportunity to chat with, not at them which is great for positive conversations.
13. Tell your children that you love them often. Regardless of your child’s age, none of us ever get tired of hearing that we are loved.
Raising children is hard work, tiring & often challenging but it is also one of the most important jobs in the world.
Good communication with your children is a goal that is worth thinking about & well worth the effort.
Parenting can sometimes feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall. No matter how many times you say something, no one seems to listen!
If you’re frustrated, exhausted and feeling fed up with being ignored, you’re not alone.
But it doesn’t have to always be this way, in fact many parenting troubles can be solved with effective communication.
By learning how to communicate effectively you’ll be able to better understand your children and speak to them in a way that they will really listen to – building positive memories that will last a lifetime.
Download my hugely popular ‘Effective Communication’ MP3 as it’s bursting with simple, quick & easy ideas for improving your communication with your kids no matter how old or young they are.
Buy The importance of effective communication here