If you are a parent or someone who works with children, you know that dealing with children is hard. Children of all ages present their own special frustrations that make us want to give up and wonder why we chose to have (or work with) children in the first place.
Young children are huge balls of energy that drain us, and when they become teenagers, there is no telling what you are going to get. Even when we feel like throwing in the towel, one thing that can help when it comes to raising children is learning the difficult art of speaking with your children. Below are a few strategies and reminders to keep in mind when communicating with your child.
Understand Your Child’s Level of Reasoning
One way that you can effectively communicate with your child is to know where they are in their understanding of reason. If you are a typically developed adult, you are likely to have the ability to reason and problem solve that a three-year-old does not.
Nobody needs to tell you that a three-year-old does not function at the same level as an adult, but in the heat of the moment, it can be hard to remember. You just want them to listen to you and stop throwing a tantrum, but all they care about is getting your attention and finding a connection that they are lacking in the moment.
The key is to talk to your child in a way that they can understand before the tantrum starts. Young children will typically not understand an executive-like thought process, but they are not also receptive to authoritarian rules that present no reasoning at all. Instead, children look for communication through words of love and affirmation.
Explain rules as being helpful and keeping them safe. When children get older, you can start to get into the nuances of the rules and explain concepts to them in a more sophisticated way. Try to keep in mind the developmental level of your child and find ways of communicating with your child that you can both understand.
Relinquish Control Over the Conversation
Another way that you can effectively communicate with your child is to give them a sense of control over the conversation. Children, teens, and adults all desire some level of control in everything that they do. With no sense of control, people can start to feel stressed because they want out of the situation.
Children are the same way. We might feel that, as adults, we hold all of the authority over our children, but at the end of the day, children are people who have their own opinions and ideas.
Effective communication and conversations take at least two people, but when it is just you talking and barking orders, that is no longer effective communication.
You may have your own idea of where you want the conversation to go, but so does your child. Promote active listening and speaking for both you and your child. Your child will be more receptive to your ideas when you show them that you care about theirs.
Need More Help Communicating with Your Child Effectively?
Do you often find yourself frustrated or exhausted when talking with your child? Does just about every conversation end with both of you angry or upset?
If so, give us a call. One of our trained youth counselors can provide you with additional tips for improving your communication. And, if necessary, they can work with you and your child to resolve any underlying issues that might be getting in the way of effectively communicating with your child.