I witnessed two beautiful parent-child conversations over the weekend. An open-minded mother of a 15-year-old girl was okay discussing with her child, their common liking towards the book, Fifty Shades of Grey.
On the other hand, I met this over loving mother and son duo. They were traversing the difficult phase of kids growing into teens, with predictable awkward references towards long hair, forbidden speedy bike rides, and the nagging of grown up kids to eat well.
I held myself back from dishing out some advice to that distraught mother. I knew my chance was gleefully waiting here for me. And so, at the first chance I got, I penned down my observations as ‘this’ blog post for all parents out there!
Parents traversing difficult equations with their kids, I feel for you. Here are some communication tricks that will help you build a beautiful communicative environment with your kids. This is for parents with not just teenage kids, but for those with little munchkins as well.
- Practice ‘involved’ listening with your kids, without distractions: Put aside those mobile phones, laptops, and other devices, when your child s trying to tell you something. Put your TV on mute when they are saying something. Be it some random story about his friend or a story about your teenage daughter’s friend’s mother, you need to listen to them intently. That’s when they know that they can always come and talk to you and also that you genuinely care about their day.
- Be honest: If you are truly busy in some chores, or are too tired to talk, tell your kids that openly. If you don’t be honest with them or worse feign interest in their talks, how will they trust the rest of the world? It is okay to tell your kids that you need time off and that you will talk to them in half an hour. Don’t make the delay too long though. And don’t keep it vague. ‘One day’ we will talk or ‘soon’ we will talk or ‘at an appropriate time’ we will talk, does not cut ice.
- Keep those small “conversation” promises: If you tell them that you will talk to them in a bit, put aside whatever you were doing, snap out of your zoning out time and keep your chat date with your kids. Mean what you say. That you will keep your promise and truly listen to them at the promised hour creates bridges of trust.
- Be lighthearted for them: Your kids learn from you. When they see you approaching ideas with an open mind and a light heart, they will learn to do that and take things in their stride in life. So be kind, funny and respectful. In rare situations when you cannot do that, respectfully tell them that you are having a really bad day. They will understand and love you more for being honest and wearing a smile, no matter what.
- Understand their true need: Sometimes, the things your kids tell you could just be to understand how you think. Under the stories, might be lurking questions for your approval. Watch out for them! ‘Are you going somewhere’ might mean “I need to talk’. ‘Am I looking good’, might mean ‘I am a little low on confidence’. Read between the lines. Understand their true need.
- Be their chat buddy: When things are relaxed and everyone is chilling out at home, engage your kids in conversations. Share your goofy stories with them so that they feel like opening up and sharing their stories with you.
- Let them breathe: They may be going wrong with their choices and decisions. If you learn that through your conversations with them, please, pretty please (againt all parental instincts), refrain from being preachy. Do not stomp them with your admonitions. Let them find that friend in you whom they can confide in. Give them confidence. Let them breath. Whatever is going wrong has to turn around and become right. But first, let them breath. You will get your turn to talk them through things and see a better perspective, once you build a rhythmic, patient, bond with them.
Want more of some hard-core conversation tips? Watch our videos on Effective Communication module.