Parenthood, as the name suggests, is a beautiful yet taxing journey. Parenthood begins the moment a child is conceived and goes on for life. Parents are the models that children imitate during their childhood years. Parents who pay attention to their child’s concerns and ideas teach their child that they are important in the family. Parent-child communication is at the heart of teaching future adults effective ways to communicate with others. Children learn attitudes, values, and behaviors, as well as gain knowledge, through communicating with others – the most important of whom are their parents. Communication between parent and child begins the day the child is born, or earlier, and continues as the child grows, matures and changes.
Communication patterns change when the child enters adolescence as his/her peers become the foremost important people in their lives. While positive communication leads to nurturing relationships, cooperation, and feelings of worth, poor communication can lead to kids who can raise a self-doubt towards a parent, conflicts and bickering, and feelings of worthlessness. As younger children, we share everything with our parents, but during our teenage years, our friends become our confidants. Communication gap, as it is called, could be due to differences in the values and perspectives of individuals stemming from the generation gap that exists between them, as well as the hesitance to speak openly with one’s own parents due which the former transitions.
How to encourage open communication:
Pay attention to your child
When they want you to listen. You can keep a track of the times when your kid actually wants you to listen, for example during meals, bedtime and so on. There are various ways your gestures convey that you are actually listening when your child is coming to talk to you, starting from turning off the TV or putting down the newspaper to not taking phone calls at that moment and actually looking at your child while he/she is talking to you.
Start the conversation so as to convey the message that you are interested in. For example: showcase your interest in what is going on in your child’s life. Initiate privacy. Try to have conversations regarding anything in private, it could be about a certain behavior of your child that you do not encourage or about some incident that made you angry. Try to get your cool back and then talk to your child. Avoid embarrassing your child or making your child the centre of attention in front of others. For instance, when you spot something that is really annoying to you or you are just unable to stop yourself from pointing it out, shift yourself to another room and then call your child there and then express what you didn’t like about your child in an assertive manner which easier to understand what went wrong, than just being pointed out.
It’s okay if you are tired at times
If you’re too tired, convey the same. It takes a little more effort than usual, but it is important to understand that active listening is requires you to be mindful.So, telling your child if you are really tired will keep you away from incorporating things forcefully at bay.
When your child is telling his/her story to you, avoid “whys” but do ask what led him/her there. When he/she gets late for home, ask if everything is okay instead of reminding them of the late hour rule. Keep preaching, adult-talking, moralizing minimal as they block open communication. These interruptions have higher chances to raise doubts in a child’s mind if he/ she should actually rely on parents to share what they are going through even if the child is a pre-schooler.
Help your child solve problems
When you think you need to fix a certain behavior of your child, assist them in planning some specific steps to the solution than using words that would put your child down. Taking for instance, your child spending hours on the phone for an excuse of staying connected with his/her friends while hampering academics, can be first brought to attention by bringing up a discussion regarding the issue that needs to be fixed by actually showing the number of hours he/she is spending on the phone and the subsequent outcomes of not devoting sufficient time to the also essential areas. This can be done by negotiating with your child and preparing a daily schedule for them in order to divide equal time to everything that they would require while giving them the confidence that their needs are also being taken care of.
Encouraging or addressing your kid that you are glad that he/ she put efforts to communicate without choosing someone else over you, like a friend of the same age who could lack experience for handling things that your child has to discuss and showing acceptance would also motivate your child to maintain the behavior.
Say sorry when it’s your mistake
Apologizing when you are wrong would also help your child to gain confidence to communicate more openly with you as it that would convey your child that it’s not only him/her who is entitled to apologize for anything that goes wrong.