This week we continue on with tip #4 which focuses on how to best communicate with your child so that you can achieve great conversation and engagement. Something we all would like more of as parents!
BIG FIVE Parenting Skill # 4: Speaking so kids will listen
The leopard is the fourth of the BIG Five African animals, and one of the smartest. While it often finds and kills its prey out in the open, it will always drag it’s kill up into a tree to eat it. The leopard knows it’s vulnerable out in the open so it chooses the safest place possible to eat. Communication is one the most important skills a parent can have. But like the leopard, parents need to consider the best place possible to make sure kids listen.
Here are five great ways to make sure communication works for you at home.
1. Talk on their turf: If you want to be heard by your kids think carefully where you deliver your message. Many kids will open up in the privacy of their own bedroom or while you are driving in the car. Choose a time and place to speak when kids are more likely to listen. Read my blog for more ideas about this.
2. Put processes in place to ensure kids communicate: When I first researched effective families over 20 years ago I discovered that parents with the most harmonious families had processes in place that encouraged communication. These ranged from family mealtimes through to more formal family meetings. Whatever methods you choose, you do need to have some processes in place that bring kids and adults together so you talk.
3. Ask good questions: If you have conversational clams in your family you need to ask good, open questions beyond “How was school today?” to get them to open up a little. Use open questions “What’s different about your new teacher from your previous teacher?” or directed questions “What’s the best thing that happened at school today?” to get some chat happening
4. Listen up, don’t parent down: Listen more than you speak and learn to bite your tongue Nothing shuts kids down more than parents who always want to give advice.
5. Try shoulder-to-shoulder parenting: Some boys (and girls) communicate better when eye contact is removed. That’s why cars can be great places to talk with some kids. If it’s hard to strike up a chat with your child then try doing something together, which removes the need for eye contact and takes the focus away from the chat.