Communicating with Your Child
Fewer than half of all sixth graders describe their family communication as positive. Worse yet, only 22% of high school seniors do. What would your kids say?
Most tweens and teens regretfully report that there are things about which they can’t talk with their parents, either because their parents won’t listen, won’t understand, or will over-react.
But believe it or not, there are parents whose kids who talk to them, and even ask their advice -- including teenagers! This web site is dedicated to the possibility that you could be one of those parents.
Because, let's face it, your ability to parent depends on knowing what’s happening in your child’s life, and being able to influence her. And that derives directly from the depth of communication you share. Deep communication is only possible if you find ways to talk about the hard stuff, so that she feels comfortable sharing with you.
But forget about having the “Big Talk,” whether about sex or anything else. Few subjects worth discussing with your child can be covered in one conversation. A rich family life means you talk about anything and everything, all the time. These discussions go on a little bit at a time, daily, for your child’s entire childhood, evolving as she does.
In this Section
One of the most common questions I hear from parents is: How can I get my kid to LISTEN to me?
Parents often tell me they don’t know where to begin to have a “real”conversation with their child. Here, 100 questions for kids of all ages to start conversations you'll love.
The most important skill for parents in talking with kids is listening. Not answering, not teaching, not lecturing, not fixing things or offering solutions. Not only do your kids not want that from you, but it would get in the way of them coming up with their own solutions. What your kids need from you is your full attention and empathy. That’s what deep listening is. How do you do it?
Kids don’t just come up to a parent and say things like “ I know you want me to get As in school and I have a chance to cheat on the test; what should I do?” or “I’m bulimic.” Parents have to earn that kind of trust. How can you insure that your kids will tell you what you need to know?
Want your kids to tell you what's going on in their lives when they're fifteen? Start by making these six commitments when they're in preschool.
How can you get your kids to open up and talk with you? Most kids talk nonstop when they’re in preschool. In elementary school, many of them begin to clam up with their parents. But there are strategies to get your kids to talk with you, and the more they get used to it, the more natural it will become.
Almost from the time our kids can talk, there are tough conversations we need to have with our kids, from an impending move ("I'm not going!") to Grandpa's illness to our teens' more serious infractions. If you can control your own emotions and keep the situation safe, your child maybe able to stop attacking and start sharing. That’s when break-throughs happen. How?
You may know that the Chinese character for the word crisis is actually a combination of two characters: one means "danger;" the other means "opportunity." Our goal, of course, is to have open lines of communication, which is what keeps crises from developing. But into every home a crisis or two must fall, and every crisis with your child is also an opportunity.
"The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked what I thought, and attended to my answer."
- Henry David Thoreau
Just whet your appetite? Here are some terrific books on talking with kids: