COMMUNICATION Is the KEY to Staying Connected to Your Child
Some parents find it difficult to talk with their teenagers. Once children hit the teen years, they go through many changes. If you establish a strong foundation when they are younger, however, these changes should not affect your relationship.
Communication with your children should begin before they can even talk. Babies will respond when parents talk to them and at a very young age can recognize the different tones in a parent’s voice. When you share your life with your children at a young age, they will continue to share their lives with you as they get older. If you don’t open up the lines of communication at an early age, it will be difficult to do so once your children become teenagers.
When my brother and I were in elementary school, my mother would have a “merienda” (afternoon snack) waiting for us when we got home from school. Those afternoon snacks gave us the opportunity to talk to my mother, and it got us in the habit of sharing our life with her.
She would sit there and listen to our stories as if they were the most interesting anecdotes she had ever heard. At first, our stories were silly, but as she got older, we began to discuss important issues with her.
Parents cannot expect their teens to share their lives with them if the teens are not in the habit of doing so. You can’t force information out of your children, and if your kids aren’t used to talking to you, they will feel like you are invading their privacy, which is why it is essential that parents become involved in their children’s lives at an early age.
Listen to your kids’ music, watch their television programs and get to know their friends. These are all things that will give you an insight into their lives.
Parents should never bombard their children with questions. Instead, they should let the conversation flow and gain their children’s trust. The more time you spend with your kids, the more comfortable they will be and the more willing they will be to open up and share their lives with you. And, although it may be difficult, parents should never act shocked by something their children tell them, no matter how they feel inside. Also, don’t interrupt when your children are talking; always let them finish what they are saying and never repeat anything your children tell you. The day your children feel that they cannot trust you, it will be almost impossible to regain their confidence. Learn to listen and always treat your child with respect.
Nor should parents lecture if they want their words to “stick.” Keep in mind that it is quality – not quantity – that is important when talking to your children. Pick and choose your words wisely. When you need to get a message across, stop talking when you feel your children have understood your point. If you keep talking, you might negate it. There are times that it is best to keep silent and wait for a better opportunity to make your point.
Maria Luisa Salcines is a freelance writer, and certified parent educator with The International Network for Children and Families in Redirecting Children’s Behavior and Redirecting for a Cooperative Classroom. Follow her on Twitter @PowerOfFamily or contact her at her Web site at www.redirectingchildrenrgv.org.