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Raising a child is much easier in theory than in practice, and that's why developing a clear path of communication with your child is so crucial. To help unsure parents, here are a few of the most important tips to remember when talking with your child to make sure they always feel heard, comfortable, and at ease.
When it comes to sorting out difficult situations, we've all heard the advice "communicate with them!" The truth is, that statement has a lot more real-life applications than most people might think. The presence of good, healthy communication is a great tool for solving disputes, yes, but it's also absolutely essential for good parents to become great parents - no one wants their child to feel ignored, brushed aside, or lonely enough that they feel like they have no one they can talk to. As the first and most important pillar in your children's lives, it's your duty as a parent to make sure they can always get the support they need to move past obstacles and grow for the better.
While talking to them may seem like a no-brainer, but it's not always easy to do so successfully. Especially when it comes to young and easily impressionable children who are still learning about the world around them. But don't worry if you're not sure how to keep up a stream of good communication with your kids, or even if you don't quite know what effective communication should look like at all. Just like how it is with children, there's no shame in looking to learn more!
Every single parent, no matter how experienced, has to start somewhere. With that being said, here's a crash course on the best things to keep in mind when developing meaningful connections with your children through words.
Communication is the best foundation for forming strong, healthy relationships built on trust and respect. If you don't try to talk to your kids or have meaningful conversations with them about moral lessons, basic knowledge, or their likes and dislikes, then how would you expect to understand them? If you're a parent, it's almost guaranteed that you want the best for your children - and without regular, open communication, it's likely that you won't ever get to find out what "the best" really means for them.
Talking with your child is the number one thing that keeps your relationship as strong and loving as it should be within a close family. As a parent, you should seek to understand the big things, like what your child is passionate about, what their biggest dreams are, and what they fear the most - but you should also know the smaller things, like what their favourite TV show is or what ice cream flavour is their number one choice for dessert.
Children can only learn to grow and mature with care and love, and you providing them with the degree of attention they require is what will really boost their self-esteem and give them the confidence they need to flourish. Without good communication from parents, children can't practice communication skills on their end, either. They can't get that sense of comfort and security that a stable relationship gives them. They won't be able to grow - and that's why communication is so important: it gives your child the support they need so critically, so that they can learn to thrive on their own.
But how do you make sure the stream of communication you have with your child is positive and supportive enough to be considered effective? Here are a few key tips to remember.
Good communication is never one-sided. When talking to your child about something important, it's easy to get carried away into lecturing parent mode, and that's understandable - but you should always remember to offer your child a chance to speak up about their emotions and feelings too, even if they seem like they don't have much to say.
Many children can be shy and unsure, and it's up to you to encourage them to speak their mind and share what they're thinking and feeling as well. The best type of meaningful conversation should have active participants on both sides.
Respect is another essential component to a strong and healthy relationship, and it should also come from both ends. If you don't treat your child with respect, chances are they won't feel the need to offer you the same courtesy either, whether it be out of anger, fear, or stubbornness. And a lack of respect is definitely something you do not want.
Try to understand your child's feelings and what they may be thinking, and take the opportunity to make an example out of it so you can teach them how to communicate with the people they care about, even if it can be hard sometimes to see things from a young child's perspective.
You should never be talking over your child, not even when teaching them an important lesson. It's easy for young children to get uncomfortable when overwhelmed, and that'll make them tap out of the conversation and lose focus!
Always acknowledge what your child says, thinks, and feels, and make sure they know you want to hear what they say. When they're telling you about something they care about or something that happened to them during the day, listen and react. Ask questions. Show them that you care and love them, and they'll eventually know to show you as well.
Instead of just making noises and nodding during a conversation, parents should make sure to always appear actively engaged and listening. Use phrases like "I understand why you feel this way" or "I'm glad you decided to share this with me" while speaking with your child! This will not only make them feel more secure and confident in your exchange, but also influence their own habits of communication for the better as well.
Words are the most important thing you can use while communicating, and it goes without saying that they hold a lot of meaning as well. Using language that lets your child feel comfortable and supported will help you foster an environment where they feel confident enough to share their thoughts.
This is an absolutely crucial tip to keep in mind. As a parent, you should always make time for your child - you'll be given the duty of helping them through tough times, giving them guidance in difficult situations, and spending enough quality moments with them so that they never feel neglected or lonely.
Allowing yourself time to speak meaningfully with your child is key to healthy and positive communication. When your child comes to you with something to say, try your best to put down whatever you're doing and listen. This lets them know that they're your first priority, and it'll make them feel more inclined to communicate readily in the future too.
Good communication doesn't always have to be one-on-one, either. Taking the time to have regular conversation within the entire household not only encourages everyone to be more open and trusting with each other, but also helps foster a strong family dynamic that doubles as a support system. Best of all, it creates a tiny break from your busy days that guarantees a meaningful bonding experience.
Try carving out a time slot every day for the whole family to sit down and talk with each other. It doesn't have to be a big chunk - even 5 minutes after dinner is enough. Everyone can share how their days went, what made them happy today, and what they're looking forward to in the near future. Making this a ritual creates a sense of habit and routine and sets an expectation for positive communication that can be easily fulfilled.
Communication isn't always easy, and it's even less so when it comes to raising children during some of the most tumultous and influential periods of their young life. As a parent, it's important to understand the difficulties you and your child can face, and it's also important to accept that you're sure to make mistakes and face disagreements along the way. Acknowledging that nobody's perfect is healthy. It doesn't create unrealistic expectations for you or your child, and it allows you the room to work things out if need be without pressure or stress.
All you have to do to succeed as a parent is try the best you can for your children, and that task starts and ends with practicing healthy, effective communication. There will almost certainly be bumps and obstacles along the way as you teach your child to learn, adapt, and grow, but with a good sense of empathy and understanding, you can always make it through - together, of course.
And that, as we know, is the ultimate goal of good communication.