Thursday, July 5, 2007

10 Communication Tips for Parents

1. Be interested in what your child has to say.
Turn off the TV and put down the newspaper. Kids can tell when you are not concentrating. Maintain eye contact, this lets your child know that you are really interested in what they have to say. If you truly do not have time at that moment, promise to get back to them later, but then do it!
2. Keep conversations brief.
The younger children are, the more difficult is for them to sit through a long speech. The goal is for parents to pass on information a little at a time while checking that their children are paying attention to and understanding what is being said at regular intervals. Parents should let children decide when enough is enough. Look for clues like fidgeting, lack of eye contact, distractibility.
3. Ask the right questions…avoid dead end questions.
Avoid asking questions that just require a yes or no answer. Ask questions that begin with what, where, who or how. But…don't let your questions turn into an interrogation!
4. Communicate at your children's level.
Come down to their level both verbally and physically. Use age appropriate language that the child can understand.
5. Express your own feelings and ideas.
Communication is a two way street. Parents can teach their children many things, for example, morals and values, by expressing thoughts and feelings. For example, watch TV together and engage the child in a conversation about why you believe what you are watching is wrong or immoral. Be careful, however, not to come off "preachy" or judgmental.
6. Regularly schedule family meetings or times to talk.
Use the dinner hour as time to catch up with each other. Or use quiet times before bed as a time to find out what the child has planned for the next day.
7. Admit it when you don't know something.
When a child asks a question you don't know the answer to, use it as a learning experience for both of you. We need to teach our children that the smartest people are not the ones who have all the answers (an impossibility), but the ones who know how to find the answers. Teach your children how to find out the answers to tough questions.
8. Try to make explanations complete.
When answering questions give as much information as the child needs, even if the subject is something that you don't feel comfortable with. If parents answer tough questions without strong reactions, children learn that no subject is taboo, and they will probably lose interest after they get their answer. Remember, anything you make an issue will become an issue.
9. Let your children know they have been heard.
Keep interruptions to a minimum. You can offer encouragement through a smile, touch or nod, without interrupting. When they are done speaking restate what the child said. For example, "Boy it sounds like you had a really tough day!" Not only will this let the child know that you have been listening, but it will often give the child a chance to clarify or give more information.
10. Avoid negative communication. Examples of negative communication:
· Nagging and Lecturing
· Interrupting
· Criticizing
· Dwelling on the past
· Controlling through the use of guilt
· Using sarcasm
· Telling children how to solve their problems
· Putting children down
· Using threats
· Denying children's feelings

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