5 Ways to Enhance Your Relationship With Your Child No Matter What Their Age Is!
By Janet Lund
In my blog Change Is Here, Ready Or Not, Part 2, I addressed the importance of listening to your college students tone of voice. The President of NNU made it very clear to us that it is important for us to listen for the difference between “the scraped elbow and the broken bone kind of pain.” This is key to knowing when you need to get involved by contacting adults on campus who can help your child through the situation.
Listening is key throughout your entire relationship with your kids.
I also mentioned in my blog, Change Is Here, Ready Or Not, Part 1, it is never too late to improve your relationship with your child.
Whether they are itty-bitty, pre-teens, teens, young adults or even adults, wherever you are in your journey you can make it better.
5 Valuable Insights for Connecting with your Kids.
Insights #1: Fall on your sword=Apologize. Face it none of us are perfect. We screw up. It is important for our kids to see that we actually are aware of our own faults and that we own up to them. This does not make us weak nor does it mean that we are not worthy to have the title of Parent. You can be open honest and humble with your kids and still be the responsible adult that deserves respect in your relationship. What you are communicating to your kids is that you are not above your own “relational household rules.” (This, of course, excludes all the other rules like being in bed by 9 pm etc.) If you expect your kids to not be rude to each other, do your darnedest to not be rude to them. But when (not if, but when) you accidentally are rude to your kids just own it! If you want your kids to own their mistakes and bad choices you need to do so also. If you walk your talk, then they will respect you more for being real and holding yourself accountable to the same rules.
Insights #2: Give your kids permission to call you out when they feel you aren’t listening to them. It’s easy to get so caught up in all our parental responsibilities that without realizing it we stop listening to what our kids are telling us. Sometimes we get overwhelmed with all the problems that we must deal with that we just want to come up with a quick fix to the problem. Sometimes we tell them they just have a bad attitude and to snap out of it so that we can move onto the next item of the day. It happens to all of us. We are human. We get tired, and it’s easy to assume we already understand the situation because we were kids once. Make sure you slow down and are listening.
Insights #3: When you are listening pay attention to the words being said but also the emotions behind what is being said. Their emotions are trying to tell you much more on a deeper level. Maybe what is being spoken is not the source of frustration. Maybe someone is picking on your kid but they are too hurt or ashamed to talk about it without some encouragement. Remind them that you are on there side and you want to support them through whatever is bothering them.
Insights #4: Be Reflective. Think back on your conversations with your child. How did it go? Were you fully present? Did you react or respond to what they shared? Was there something you wish you had said differently? Or did you just connect with something they said that might be significant? Maybe there is one more thought you’d like to share? Remember the conversation is never over. It’s never too late to clarify what you meant.
Insights #5: Listen to their Pain. When you have screwed up, and you have apologized give them time and the space to express their feelings. They will most likely need to express how bad what you said made them feel. Instead of getting defensive be quiet and listen. Try very hard to look at it from their point of view. Remember that no matter what you meant to communicate it’s important to hear what they heard. (Who knows, there might be a message you’ve been sending your child that you didn’t even know you were communicating. Something you don’t want to be communicating.) Pause and reflect on what they have shared. Try to feel what they are feeling. (Not how you would have received it or felt if you had been them because you aren’t them, and that doesn’t matter.) What matters is their experience. You care about them right? So address their “emotional boo-boo” as they are experiencing it. Express words of love addressing their “owie” and that you are sorry that is how it felt. if you want to clarify what you had meant to communicate, just remember to be very careful because you don’t want them to feel stupid for hearing what they did. They are already feeling damaged. Just because your words made sense to you in your head doesn’t mean they make sense to someone else.
Insights Come To Those Looking For Them
We all know this, intuitively. Communicating well is difficult. Insights come to us when we’re open to them. Listening comes when we are open to hear. We don’t always get it right. Good parenting is about practicing those insights. Refining them. Improving at them.
So, be quick to forgive. Be eager to grow. This habit will become infectious.
Remember, whatever the topic, keep in the forefront of your mind that you want your child to know that their feelings and your relationship with them is much more important to you than the topic of discussion. Listening to understand is where the magic grows, and that magic is love.
Do you have insights to share? Tips you’ve found helpful in keeping healthy communication flowing between you and your child?
Please share your thoughts below. We’ll be happy you did!