Parenting is one of the most important and difficult jobs a person can have. It demands extraordinary skills, stamina, creativity and unconditional love. By establishing and maintaining your role as a supportive and communicative parent, you provide a safe and stable environment for your child. Using these proven communication tips will lead to a long-lasting, open and loving relationship.
Tip #1: Frame requests in a positive manner with emphasis on the negative outcomes rather than the negative behavior
Instead of “You cannot climb on the chairs, you know you are not supposed to do that!”, use “I would like you to walk around the chairs. Climbing on them would not be safe and you can fall and hurt yourself.”
Instead of “You are not supposed to be standing. You are breaking the classroom rules!” use “If you stand up when your classmates are sitting down, they might not be able to see.”
Tip #2: Relate to and be aware of your child’s mental innocence and language capacity
Form a physical connection with your child by achieving eye contact and approaching the child in a non-threatening manner. Optimize verbal communications with your child by using simple, child-friendly language and maintain active listening. Keep conversations brief! One good rule is to speak to young children for no longer than 30 seconds and then ask him/her to comment on what was said.
Instead of “It is unacceptable to hit your brother” use “Please keep your hands to yourself and do not hit your brother.”
Tip #3: Utilize open-ended questions
– What would happen if…?
– What do you think about…?
– How do you think we could…?
– What would you do…?
– Why do you think this happened…?
Instead of “Did you hurt your brother?”, use “Why is your brother crying?” Instead of “Did you make this mess?”, use “What can you tell me about this spilled paint?”
Tip #4: Utilize “I” statements
“I” messages are less threatening and it helps the child understand how their behavior made you feel, instead of accusing/blaming. Instead of “You are not listening!”, use “I feel that when you are playing while I am talking, you don’t think what I have to say is important.”
Tip #5: Provide choices to encourage a mutual compromise and discovery of solutions
“It is very hard for me to talk when you interrupt, but I know you have something important to say. You can say it when I am finished or you can write it down and say it when it is your time to talk. Which would you prefer?”
“You can take a bath before dinner or before you go to bed. What would you like to do?”
This type of communication will prevent the establishment of a negative communication pattern that results in blame, guilt, and can result in defensiveness, lying, and on-going conflict. By using the techniques in these 5 tips you are using language that is more age appropriate, fostering open and positive communication, and improving decision-making skills.