We need to listen to our kids. No, we can’t do all the talking. We actually have to stop and listen to what they have to say.
Listening is a vital part of a parent’s job. You have to know what your kids are thinking and doing. How will you know these things without talking to them? Spying won’t tell you what they are thinking or feeling. The only thing that will do that is simply asking.
But it isn’t easy to talk to kids, especially as they enter the teenage years. They think they know everything. They aren’t always the most talkative, either. Sometimes, we have to pull the information we need out of them. So what can we do?
First here are a few things not to do:
Don’t try to talk to your child in the morning. He or she is busy focusing on the day and may not even be awake enough to talk, really talk, yet.
Don’t make steady eye contact. You will make your kid feel like a deer caught in a trap.
Don’t wait until you have your kids undivided attention. It may never happen.
Don’t try to ban screaming or acting out, especially if the kid is a teen. Teens are known for acting dramatic. They like to scream, they like to slam doors. Just try to stay calm and allow them to vent some.
Don’t just ask general questions like how was your day or other questions that could easily be answered with one words. Remember kids love those kind of questions. School was fine, etc.
Don’t focus your conversations on purely the negative, bad grades, forgotten chores, etc. Try to have conversations about other things, too. That will keep your child talking to you on a regular basis. If every time you open your mouth it is to speak something negative, would you blame your child for not wanting to talk to you?
Don’t give advice, unless asked. This is in general. For example, maybe your daughter would look better in another blouse. Skip the advice and save it for when it is really important.
Don’t assume you know what your teen will say or do next because that is how you acted as a teen. Teenagers are different than when we were as kids. It is just the way things are. The world changes as do the teens and the way they act and react.
If you realize something is important to your child, don’t make a joke about it. Whether it is a dream for the future or making the team now, it isn’t a laughing matter if it is important to your child. Make it seem important to you, too.
If your child did something you don’t like, ask him/her why she/he did it? Ask him/her how she/he felt when he/she did it. Did the child actually realize it was wrong?
Don’t keep bringing up the subject over and over again. Talk it over once and then let it drop for a while. Then wait and see what develops next.
Some other important advice:
Remember to watch your body language. Watch about shrugging or folding your arms out in front of you. Those gestures can look like you are putting up a barrier between you and your child.
Watch those facial expression, too. Those scowls and rolling of the eyes will be noticed.
Try not to sigh, no matter how aggravated you feel.
Watch your tone. If you sound angry going into the conversation, the child will notice and be on edge.
Try not to yell, even if your child yells.
Remember to count to ten.
Give your child a chance to talk and time to think about what he/she wants to say.
Don’t be sarcastic.
If you become to angry, it is time to stop the conversation.
By taking steps and watching what and how you handle the conversations with your child, you may be able to make them more productive. No matter what, do not give up and never stop trying to talk to your child.