We’ve all learned as adults that communicating with others is not just important, it is necessary. Whether we do it well or only effectively, to have our basic needs met, or function in a work environment or with our family at home, there must be some form of communication.
From a very early age, our children learn their basic communications skills from us. Encouraging them to talk with us, and the freedom to talk about any subject no matter how uncomfortable will pay off down the road as they begin growing up and trying to navigate life more independently of mom and dad. Conversations with your teens and young adult children do not have to hit an impasse if you build a strong foundation for spending time together talking and discussing matters both small and great. Verbal and non-verbal communication are equally important, but we will focus on verbal communication skills to strengthen, energize and enliven your ability to stay connected with your child.
Today I will share three of seven keys, I’ve found worked well for me and my children.
- Make talking a part of the daily routine
When we are intentional about spending time talking with our child(children) consistently, it becomes easier to deal with difficult subjects as they arise. Set aside time to talk with your child each day.
This will help to offset the times when busy schedules or crises may use up our available time.
- Sometimes, the conversation may go longer than at other times
Sometimes, there may not be much to say. That’s okay, the point here is to make time to chat regularly. This will help to head off forced interactions, allowing both you and your child or children opportunities to develop a relationship with spurts spontaneous growth or set the pattern for planned conversations: after meals, before bedtime, or throughout the day.
- A silent mouth and sympathetic ear
As parents, we are inclined to try and fix our children’s problems. We want to prepare the road for the child rather than preparing the child for the road. Learn to listen without offering an immediate solution to help your child to develop the skills needed to problem solve and work through whatever is bothering them. I remember once while giving a presentation, a mom offered a comment about a situation that had recently taken place with her teenage daughter. The mom had noticed her daughter was feeling a little down or discouraged, and asked: “what was wrong?” The daughter respectfully answered that she wasn’t ready to talk about it yet, she just needed some time to figure a few things out. “Plus mom, she offered “whenever I tell you about a problem you jump right in and start trying to help me figure it out and this time I need to do that for myself.” May I come to you if I can’t or once I do to make sure I’m on the right track?” What a wise mother to know she needed to give her daughter some space.
Be sure to follow this blog to learn more about communicating with our children and how the four other keys helped us to stay connected and keep our communication open.