Communication is essential to any kind of relationship, whether it's a romantic connection between two people, a friendship, or a parental bond from a mother to her little ones. In fact, it's especially important when it comes to kids, and in an ideal world, you want your children to feel like they can tell you anything and trust you with their deepest secrets.
Of course, in the real world, many moms and dads encounter a few issues talking with their kids, and these problems only tend to get worse as the children grow up, which is why it's so important to take action now to improve communication with your kids while they're young, building good habits that can set you up for a strong relationship in the future.
Establishing trust and strengthening the bond you and your child share can have a lot of benefits. It can help you in terms of getting to know who your children really are, understanding their desires and points of view, and even help with understanding the best interests of your child so you can make the right choices and help them be happy. With this in mind, let's take a look at some top tips for talking to kids.
Listen and Learn
A big part of building better communication between you and your children is simply getting to know them and understanding what kind of character they have. Kids are all unique and they might not like to communicate the same way you do. Some will be really chatty in the evenings but less talkative in the mornings, for example.
Some may like to be asked questions, while others are a little more defensive when it comes to conversation and prefer to take things at their own pace. In either case, the key is to listen to your children, get to know what kinds of people they are, and make the most of it. For instance, if your child always seems bubbly after school, be sure to chat with them lots at that time of day.
Do's And Don'ts
Parents have a tendency to use the word "Don't" rather than "Do" when trying to communicate with their kids and show them the right ways to act or behave. It's quite simple to say things like "Don't do that" and "Don't go there" all the time, but when kids hear these phrases too often, not only do they lose their meaning, but they might actually have the opposite effect you were intending.
Kids who are constantly being told what not to do may begin to rebel against that, wanting to break the rules and growing frustrating at being told "No" all the time. Instead of using "Don't" phrases or statements, find other ways to promote positive behavior. For example, instead of saying “Don't draw on the walls,” you can say “Please draw on this paper instead”.
Positive reinforcement is such an important part of communicating with younger children. Kids that hear negative words or have to deal with meanness or namecalling from their parents will end up being frightened or anxious about even having a conversation with you or opening up about something that worries them.
Meanwhile, children who hear lots of positive phrases, thank yous, general politeness, and complimentary phrases will be far more open and approachable. So tell your children that you love them, compliment them on their good behavior, make a point of mentioning how proud and pleased you are when they obey the rules and do things well. And if they do let you down, avoid resorting to cruel terms or phrases.
The Importance Of Door Openers
One of the keys to communicating with younger children is making the most of what experts often refer to as 'door openers'. These are small phrases or words that children tend to respond well to, encouraging them to open up more and keep the conversation going. Some examples are "Tell me more" and "Really?" and "That's amazing!"
These simple words and phrases help little ones feel that their thoughts and ideas are valued, allowing them to feel like part of a grown-up conversation and making them eager to share more. Over time, this can only lead to positive effects as your children will be more willing to open up with you and share what's on their mind.
Ultimately, improving communication with your kids is all about respecting and understanding them, and following just one or two of these simple tips can help you see real changes in your parent-child relationships.