Communicating with a child of any age can be wonderful, frustrating, or a mixture of both. Whether your child is only giving you one word answers (i.e. “fine”) or they won’t stop telling you about Pokemon Go, communication is everything at all ages. In an age when we often communicate via a text message, email, or posting on social media, it is becoming even more important to ensure we are intentionally communicating and connecting with our children. Below are some things to remember as you communicate with your child.
- Talk about the everyday stuff every day!
- Create times for talking. Eat dinner as a family, turn off technology, take a bike ride, play a board game, go outside and shoot the basketball together, etc. Do things together that both of you enjoy – it may be the best way to get a conversation going!
- Avoid general questions. Asking “How was your day?” usually produces a one word answer. Ask specific questions to inspire a conversation. These type of questions will lead to more specific responses, i.e. “What games did you play at PE today?” or “Is the lesson getting any easier?”
- Be approachable. Listen without judging. Listen without always responding or noting your opinion.
- Acknowledge and accept their feelings. Although you may feel they are overreacting, be sure to acknowledge their feelings.
- Take concerns seriously. Try to listen from your child’s perspective.
- Think through the tough conversations. When the time comes, think it through in advance. What do you want to say? What questions do you want to ask?
- Always remember that listening is more important than talking. Establish eye contact, don’t interrupt, use short phrases like “Uh-huh” or “I see,” nod your head, ask questions.
- Remember that good communication leads to connection and connection comes first!