How many fights, tears and fits of frustration could be avoided if your kid would just listen to you? I am happy (and relieved) to say that my 13 year daughter and I don’t fight, we rarely frustrate each other and we’ve never driven each other to tears. How? Well, it’s really pretty simple. Briefly, here are seven things I do to help keep my line of communication open with daughter.
Would speak to a stranger the way you speak to your child? I hope not, judging from most conversations I’ve heard between parents and children when I’m people watching. Would you listen to someone who was rude to you? Would you be in any hurry to do what they told you to do? Do not treat good manners as though they are only meant for strangers. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when you ask them to do something whether they are small or big things. And, remember, to be polite, you must be sincere.
How much do you just talking to your child? How much interest do you show in things that are important to them? I know getting kids to open up is hard especially if there is a wall that’s been built between the two of you. But a good way to start getting them to talk is to take an interest in what they are doing. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and the things they are good at. Children are certainly no exception. Whether it’s video games, music, fashion, you tube channels, it is a good way to get them to talk to you.
You don’t want to be lectured, why would your child? Enough said.
Be an ally
Always, always, always make certain your child knows that you are in their corner. Even if you disagree with them, you are still on their side. Respect and trust your child. (Don’t doubt them unless they have given you honest reason to distrust them. That is a whole other discussion.) Your child has a ton of forces trying to destroy their lives. They must have you as an ally.
Whether they admit it or not, our kids desperately want our approval. Nothing is more devastating to a child than being ignored or, worse, belittled by a parent. Be your child’s biggest cheerleader! Whatever it is they are doing. When you do give criticism, make certain you start and finish with the things they did well. It’s call the praise sandwich method and it works even better for kids than it does for adults.
Would any one listen to someone who was constantly changing their minds. Would you waste your time listening to a person who, next week, might tell you something entirely different? Children needs consistency in all things but especially in us. When a child knows where you stand, then they know where they stand.
This is the hardest of all. Even doing all these things perfectly will not get your child to listen to you over night… or this week… or this month. According to a study done by European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes up to 254 days to break a bad habit and install a good one. And, remember your child isn’t the only one learning a new habit; you are too. But if you will hold the course your child will begin to open up with you and be willing to listen to you in turn
These seven things are not just topics I pulled out of thin air. They are practical suggestions I practice doing every single day to keep mine and my daughter’s line of communication open. It’s not always easy. But it has always been worth it.