Speaking with our children in a way that they listen to us and listening to them in a way that they talk to us, is an art parents need to practice for easy communication with their children. Good communication is an important parenting skill that can lead to an enjoyable, positive parent-child relationship.
Listed below are some of the points that we discussed at Mums World recently, which are applicable for parents of toddlers as well as teenagers:
- Be aware of children’s ability to understand. Parents need to communicate with their children, keeping in mind their age. It is important to pick words that children would understand so that the message is properly conveyed to their children.
- Readiness of children to listen. While communicating, parents should ensure that their children are not preoccupied with anything else. Sometimes parents keep talking, assuming that they are being heard. However, children may be engrossed in some other thought or thing (e.g. toy or cell phone), resulting in words spoken, not being heard.
- Make it short and simple. At times, in an effort of being understood well, parents tend to elaborate and explain their point in detail. Most teenaged children have no patience and toddlers find it difficult to concentrate for long and loose interest. Thus, the best way to reach out to them is to make simple requests, keep it short and quick!
- Avoid Complain, Criticism & Preaching. Children are more receptive to listening to parents’ point of view, if they are spoken to objectively, rather than in a complaining or criticizing tone.
- Be a role model. Children will learn to listen, if parents listen to them. It is necessary for parents to not interrupt when their children are speaking. Children should be allowed to complete whatever they wish to share.
- Listen attentively. If parents want their children to listen to them, they should first practice listening attentively to their children. Parents need to show interest in what their children are sharing. They need to make eye contact with children and put aside whatever activity they have in hand (newspaper, cell phone, watching T.V.). If parents are busy, it is better to inform children that they need to complete whatever they are doing before they can be free to listen to them.
- Maintain privacy. If children need to be corrected or reprimanded for their behaviour, parents need to do that in private. Parents need to select a place and time when there are no spectators at the time of correcting children’s behaviour, unless the third person is a part of the situation. If children are corrected in someone’s presence they feel insult and resentment.
- Readiness to listen. It is advisable for parents to not overbook their time with activities. Sometimes parents tend to multitask and pack in a lot of work in the day. As a result they get tired and are not able to listen to what their children are trying to say through their words (spoken and unspoken), expressions and body language. Active listening tends to become difficult when mind and body is tired.
Communication is the key to any successful relationship. If parents are able to communicate well with their children, it can act as a strong foundation to their relationship.