Listening is a huge component to communication and many parents do not listen enough. Parents are stressed and over worked; they run their children from activity to activity, feed their families and help with homework. After all of the demands are met and the reminders about the rules and responsibilities are stated for the 80th time, it's no wonder children begin to tune parents out. Kids often want to tell their parents what is going on in their lives but communication barriers stifle the messages.
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Give your child the gift of your time. If your child approaches you to talk, stop what you are doing and talk to her. This will help to avoid behavioural issues such as non-compliance or emotional withdrawal in the future. Often, your child will only want to chat for a few minutes about something of interest or to ask a question. If you find it is a serious matter, you will be glad you took the time. Children who are listened to generally become good listeners.
Attempting to communicate with your child when you are angry is counterproductive. Give yourself time to cool off before beginning a conversation. Tell your child how you feel using "I" statements. Avoid accusing your child of any wrongdoings until you have the full story. Let him in on anything you have heard about the situation and give him the chance to tell his side of the story. Hold your comments until the end. Assist your child with solving the problem and discuss any necessary consequences in a calm manner.
Body Language/ Tone
The tone of your voice tells its own story and your child will pick up on it whether you want her to or not. If your tone says, "Leave me alone," a sensitive child may feel rejected and do just that. Watch your stance as it may be intimidating to your child. An angry parent looming over a child can be scary. Crossing your arms, placing your hands on your hips or giving a stern look can all take the place of talking and listening. The end result is often communication barriers with your child.
Children are often full of energy and excited to tell their side of the story whether it is about the school play, the huge snowball fight they had with the kids in the neighbourhood or the new kid in town. Embrace your child's feelings and avoid interrupting. Do your best to avoid negative comments about another child's behaviour or to scold your child about hanging out with the wrong crowd. If you listen, you may find that he did tell the other child he disliked the behaviour or he did stick up for his friend who was being bullied. This will give you an opportunity to praise, rather than criticise your child.
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