Parenting is not a simple job. And sometimes, just communicating with your kids and getting your point across without arguing can be challenging! Perhaps you have teenagers who you bicker with. Or maybe you have young children who haven’t quite learned to regulate their own emotions yet.
These are perfectly normal challenges that every family goes through. Mastering the art of talking to your children in a way that encourages them to listen takes time and practice. But just because communication has been difficult lately doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Here are a few tips for talking to your kids so that they’ll listen.
Accept Their Feelings
Sometimes, your children might express feelings you don’t necessarily think would be a valid response to the situation they’re in. But whether you think their feelings are warranted, they’re expressing their own emotional experience.
Therefore, it’s important to let them know that they have a right to feel this way. Acknowledge your children’s feelings even if you’re frustrated. Give them time and space to say what’s on their mind, and release the need to voice your own frustrations for a while.
Understand Your Child’s Emotions
Going beyond listening to your children is key. Make a genuine effort to understand your child’s emotional state. What do they feel, and why do they feel this way? As long as they’re calm enough to answer, ask them a few questions about their emotions.
This proves you’re not only listening, you’re reflecting on what they’ve told you. It’s part of the active listening process, and it’s an essential aspect of authentic communication between two people.
If your child worries that by opening up to you, they’re risking punishment, they might be reluctant to tell you when something is wrong. Yes, every parent needs to discipline their kids once in a while, but it does not have to be your first course of action when there’s tension between you and your child.
When it comes to remedying problems in your household, think outside the box rather than jumping straight to typical forms of discipline. Aim to brainstorm solutions rather than focusing on punishment. Consider how you and your child can work together to fix things.
Giving constructive feedback is a great way to share your advice without hurting your child’s feelings. If you’re too critical towards your child, they will feel discouraged from opening up to you. They may not want to admit when they’re struggling because they will worry that talking about it will only make them feel worse.
Take steps to lift your child up when they’re feeling down with compassionate advice. They will know that it’s safe to come to you when they’re in need of a shoulder to lean on, and they’ll be more likely to listen to you in the future.
Don’t Oversimplify Complex Problems
When you’re trying to ask your child to do something, it’s tempting to say, “Because I said so!” when they ask for your reasoning. But giving real answers allows you to admit your own uncertainty.
Kids don’t want to feel like adults are shutting them out of important decisions. Instead of jumping to simple solutions, take a moment to think about how you can explain to your child that your request is for their own good. If you can convey these details in a way they will understand, they may find it easier to abide by what you’re asking.
Are you having trouble talking to your kids and communicating honestly? Working with a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.