GUIDELINES FOR PARENT/CHILD COMMUNICATION
Good communication is an important parenting skill. Parenting can be more enjoyable when positive parent – child relationship is established. Whether you are parenting a toddler or a teenager, good communication is the key to building self-esteem as well a mutual respect.
Basic Principles of Good Parent/Child Communication
- Let the child know that you are interested and involved and that you will help when needed.
- Turn off the television or put the newspaper down when your child wants to converse.
- Avoid taking a telephone call when the child has something important to tell you.
- Unless other people are specifically meant to be included, hold conversations in privacy. The best communication between you and the child will occur when others are not around.
- Embarrassing the child or putting them on the spot in front of others will lead only to resentment and hostility, not good communication.
- Don’t tower over your child. Physically get down to the child’s level then talk.
- If you are very angry about a behavior or an incident, don’t attempt communications until you regain your cool, because you cannot be objective until then. It is better to stop, settle down, and talk to the child later.
- If you are very tired, you will have to make an extra effort to be an active listener. Genuine active listening is hard work and is very difficult when your mind and body are already tired.
- Listen carefully and politely. Don’t interrupt the child when they are trying to tell their story. Be as courteous to your child as you would be to your best friend.
- Don’t be a wipe-out artist, unraveling minor threads of a story and never allowing the child’s own theme to develop. This is the parent who reacts to the incidentals of a message while the main idea is list: i.e., the child starts to tell about what happened and the parent says, “I don’t care what they are doing, but you had better not be involved in anything like that.”
- Don’t ask why, but do ask what happened.
- If you have knowledge of the situation, confront the child with the information that you know or have been told.
- Keep adult talking (“You’ll talk when I’m finished.” “I know what’s best for you.” “Just do what I say and that will solve the problem”), preaching and moralizing to a minimum because they are not helpful in getting communication open and keeping it open.
- Don’t use put-down words or statements: dumb, stupid, lazy: “Stupid, that makes no sense at all” or “What do you know, you’re just a child.”
- Assist the child in planning some specific steps to the solution.
- Show that you accept the child them self, regardless of what they have or have not done.
- Reinforce the child for keeping communication open. Do this by accepting them and praising their efforts to communicate.
Words of Encouragement and Praise
Children thrive on positive attention. Children need to feel loved and appreciated. By selecting and using some of the phrases below on a daily basis with your child, you will find that they will start paying more attention to you.
Great job controlling yourself
I like the way you ______
I noticed that you _______
Keep it up
I had fun ______ with you
You are improving at ______ more and more
You showed a lot of responsibility when you ______
Way to go
I appreciate the way you ______
I like the way you ______ without having to be asked (reminded)
I’m glad you are my son/daughter
I love you
You can SHOW them how you feel as well as tell them:
Pat on shoulder, head, back, knee
Signal or gesture to signify approval
Laugh (with, not at)