Communicating with your children starts with you!
I'm not going to lie and say my communication skills and how I interact with my own children are the greatest or that we even have the greatest relationships.
But what I will say is that I'm willing to learn from each and every one of my children as much as I want them to learn from me.
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all, and each and everyone one of them is an individual in their own right and should be treated as such.
Now that I have confessed my sin, let's learn together not about how we can force our children to open up to us but how we can find strategies that will allow fluid and unforced conversations, where both feel comfortable discussing topics of all sorts.
Imagine what sort of powerful and rewarding relationship that would give us as a family?
So where do we start?
As I have discovered, the communication barrier started to build and come into force around (get ready for the SHOCK) when my kids became teenagers (if you have ever seen the episode where Harry Enfield's character Kevin becomes a teenager then you know where I am coming from ;-). If you need reminding, here is a video - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLuEY6jN6gY
I hope I haven't put you off!! It get's easier I promise you so let's look at the steps to take...
When your child is in junior school and is still likely to be spending a majority of their time around you this is where the relationships should be built.
You should be allowing family time where electronic devices such as iPads, phones and computers are off and time is spent discussing how their day went.
What went well?
How did they feel at the time?
What could have been done differently?
Make sure when asking these questions, you are actively listening to what they have got to say. Make them feel like no matter how small or big the issue, you fully support them and are there for them.
As your child will learn to communicate from you the more you can communicate with your child, the earlier and quicker they will develop these skills.
At this time it is also good to give them a child-friendly version of how your day went let them know that even parents have bad days make mistakes and feel down.
Start with a basic conversation.
This will start to peel back barriers allowing each of you to feel more comfortable talking about more pressing issues.
After time, conversing with your children will happen naturally and you will become more aware of how your child is feeling by what and how they are saying things and by their body language.
Dinner time in my house used to mean that we all sat watching youtube on our personal devices until my wonderful partner banned this from the kitchen.
But this ban didn't mean we spoke, we just ate quicker to get the phones back on
But after reading more about the importance of communication, I now go out of my way to express interest in everything my children are doing at dinner time.
True listening is so important.
Too often, we partially listen to what they say and all that says is we are only partially interested in what they are having to say.
Be fully engaged and fully focused on them at this stage - this will prove to be SO IMPORTANT!
I want to know what, why, who, when, if, but, can, can't and you know what's amazing is how interesting these little humans are and the way they see the world.
It doesn't have to be done seriously - have fun with it - make jokes, show them you are just not a Parent/ Carer, but rather, you are just a Big version of them.
At present, I am putting together some discussion cards and a booklet for parents and children to work through together. If you wish to trial a booklet or a set of conversion cards PM me on facebook Thomas Scannell
It will be your job as Parent/carer to maintain this up to and through the dreaded teens. But rest assured, it can be done, I promise!
At this point in a child's life, most parents start to see their children less which is sad.
As they start becoming more independent, it is at this time when parents need to take every opportunity to do more things with them. The reality is your child is about to become a different person and during this transition, if they don't feel comfortable expressing themselves to you they will be finding answers from their friends and/or social media.
By keeping an active interest and offering support and guidance, you will show your child that you fully understand they are becoming an adult and that they need their own space but you will always be there for them when they need you.
I now start my day by messaging my children telling them how much they mean to me how proud I am of them, explaining to them they have the ability to achieve anything they are willing to work towards.
They won't necessarily understand why I'm doing this untll they have children of their own, but at least I know they start their day with a positive image of themselves.
Remember communicating with your child isn't all about talking (we have two ears and one mouth for a reason!).
It's about the barriers you set for them, the way you carry yourself and who you surround yourself with. Before your child becomes their own person they will start to mimic those closest to them.
Who will be the people you allow around your child?
I want to form a parents group where can discuss subjects with each other and offer a support network. Being a parent does not come with an instruction manual.
SO LET US HELP EACH OFFER
Interested? PM me on Facebook at Thomas Scannell
And when you feel you are ready to join my crusade…