Effective, open communication takes a lot of hard work and practice. What is important is that parents make the effort to effectively communicate with their children starting at a very young age in order to ensure a closer and more positive relationship.
Communication is the exchange of information between people; it can be verbal or non-verbal. Relationships between parents and their children are greatly improved when there is effective communication taking place. Children begin to form ideas and beliefs about themselves based on how their parents communicate with them. When parents communicate effectively with their children, they are showing them respect and boosting their self-esteem. This ensures that children are also more likely to feel secure in their position in the family, and are thus more likely to be cooperative.
Before parents and their children can communicate, both must feel comfortable enough to do so. While their children are very young, parents should begin setting the stage for open, effective communication. Parents must demonstrate to their children that they love and accept them. Children who feel loved and accepted by their parents are more likely to open up and share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns with their parents. Everything parents say to their children sends a message about how they feel about them.
Parents can show their children they accept them through gestures, facial expressions, and other nonverbal behaviors. Parents should try to eliminate behaviors like yelling and not paying attention to their children. Such behaviors get in the way of effective communication.
When parents communicate with their children, it is important for them to come down to their children’s level both verbally and physically. Verbally, parents should try to use age-appropriate language that their children can easily understand. Listening is a skill that must be learned and practiced. Listening is an important part of effective communication. When parents listen to their children they are showing them that they are interested and they care about what their children have to say. The younger children are, the more difficult it is for them to sit through long speeches. One good rule for parents is to speak to young children for no longer than 30 seconds, then ask them to comment on what was said.
Parents should try to ask open-ended questions in their conversations with their children. Such questions often require an in-depth response that will keep a conversation going. Open-ended questions that begin with the words “what,” “where,” “whom,” or “how” are often very useful in getting children to open up. For communication to be effective, it must be a two way street. Parents can teach their children many things, for example, morals and values, by expressing their thoughts and feelings.
When children ask questions that their parents can’t answer, they should admit that they don’t know. Parents can use such instances as learning experiences. For example, parents can teach their children how to get the information they’re looking for by taking them to the library, using the encyclopedia, etc. When answering their children’s questions, parents should try to give them as much information as they need, even if the topic is something parents don’t feel comfortable discussing. Parents should make sure that the information they give their children is age-appropriate.
During conflict, it’s best to tackle one problem at a time. Parents should also keep in mind that there are many solutions to a problem and they should be creative in finding solutions that are agreeable to all parties. Even during conflict, parents should be polite to their children and show the same amount of respect as they would under any other circumstance. Parents should be able to forgive during conflict in order to also teach kids about being forgiving.
In order to avoid negative communication- such as nagging and lecturing, interrupting, criticizing, sarcasm, dwelling on the past and using threats- among others, parents should open the lines of communication by recognizing the negative communication patterns and making the appropriate changes.
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