How to talk to your children so they will listen and how to listen to them so they will talk?

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There is no doubt that communication is vital for the patient-child relationship and development…of them both. Communication can make or break a child. It can make you gain them for life or lose them. But communication with your child is different than communicating with your spouse or an adult. Why? Because you are their mother, they are children and the laws of logic and love are different. This is a relationship that depending on the time, is completely unique. Of course a teenager is different than a toddler than a preschooler. And just as they grow, so do we. Their demands change, their reasoning changes, and their mental and emotional abilities change. And although most of us will view them as our babies, we soon learn, the hard way, that they do not see things that way. As they turn from completely dependent to completely independent, we go through the same cycle of change from being completely in control to having very little, if any.

            Let me ask you something. If you are at work and your boss has a daily meeting set between 10 and 10.30, you would make sure you are there because you job depends on it. If you miss it, you are fired. If you have diabetes and need to take your insulin at a certain time because if you do not you can pass out, you stop whatever you are doing and take your medication. Do you have the same commitment with your children? Do you treat their time as sacred? Do you have a time carved out just for them, without distractions, cell phones, TV or food? I cannot tell you how important these steps are for the relationship between you two. The key to carving out this wonderful relationship is priority setting and time honoring. Set time for your children to allow them to express themselves, share their thoughts. Cultivate that from when they are very young. Why? Because it does two things. It develops a routine that becomes second nature to them to come to you and talk to you all the time. Two, it make you their best friend and they will not feel awkward doing so as they grow up. After all, how much do we see our children daily? How many hours per week? Especially if they are in school and you are at work. Truth is most of their time is spent away from you, and unless they say what is on their mind and tell you what happened to them, their lives will be nothing but the tip of a huge iceberg that you will not know about. But someone else will!

Here are a few tips for talking and listening.

  1. Sit down at their level. Do not tower over them. You try it. See how comfortable you are talking to someone standing over your head.
  2. Give them your full undivided attention.
  3. Do not judge them. Allow them their freedom. You are here to guide and protect. Not to criticize and judge.
  4. If you want to get your message across, make sure you are calm, and they are calm also. How many times do we catch ourselves screaming our lungs out and yelling at them? And they are yelling back?
  5. Play with them. Play with them. Play with them.
  6. Make your time with them fun and happy and light and most of all, free for them to express and be themselves.
  7. Let them know the difference between anger and concern, frustration and worry. They cannot detect that from your tone of voice, explain it to them.
  8. Be clear. Be very clear in your communication. That is key.
  9. Give individual time, and group time.
  10. Maintain trust and confidence in them, even if they seem like they did the worse thing possible.
  11. Be PATIENT!!!
  12. Make them always feel comfortable with you. If you want to know how, ask yourself who are you most comfortable with, and why?
  13. Share your stories. But give them the full time to share theirs.

Kids! And you thought adults were complicated. Well we are, but we started off like this. And those of us who are able to express ourselves the best and listen the most tend to guide and lead. And the education to do so starts with you. So, are you preparing your kids to be all they can be, or setting them up for other less fruitful lives?