Have you ever said something to your kids and you thought you were clear BUT something totally different from what you said or requested happens? Or WORSE YET, they say, "You didn't tell me that!" Here are some tips to make sure THEY GET IT! These tips will help with communicating with everyone on your radar. (Teens in particular have an amazing ability to hear only what they want to hear.)
1. Get clear on what you want to communicate. When we unclear, we tend to blather which shuts down communication.
2. Bottom line your communication - most parents talk too much. This causes our child to tune us out....they become parent deaf. For those of you who have children under 4, research says you only have 7 seconds and then you start loosing them.
3. Set your intention. Become more conscious of and focus on the results you want from your communication. For example: 'I want to be close and connected to my child."
4. Practice in the mirror or with a partner. This gives you a safe space to make mistakes and correct them BEFORE you talk to your child. It will also provide valuable feedback so you can get the results you want.
5. Ask permission. "I need to talk to you, is this a good time?" One mom I coached said, "This has been a game changer for me. If I talk and don't have his permission, I usually get the rolled eye treatment."
You may be thinking, "What if they tell you it is not a good time?" You then say, "Thank you for telling me. When would be a good time?"
6. Create emotional safety. Children shut down or become resistive when they they think they are in trouble or are going to get punished. To prevent this, start your communication with, "You are not in trouble."
7. Get within 2 feet of your child. Telling your child something from across the room requires that you yell. A raised voice usually creates resistance.
8. Get on their level. Don't tower over them. This stance feels threatening.
9. Make friendly eye contact. The operative word here is FRIENDLY. It is easy to glower, beg with puppy dog eyes or my favorite, have the look of a martyr. None of these create cooperative results.
10. If you tend to be critical tell your child (or spouse), "I have a tendency to sound critical, so stop me if it sounds that way. That's not what I want to do." Let them help you to change this pattern.
11. Timing is everything. Make sure you are not interrupting them. Some activities our children do may seem unimportant to us adults. Be sensitive to the fact that no one likes to be interrupted during an activity they deem as important.
12. Have them tell what they heard you say. This is imperative for two reasons. One, if they say it, it helps them to solidify it in their brain. And the second, is they may have heard something different. For example, they may have heard they did something wrong or are bad when that wasn't your intention. Or they may have missed an important detail of the communication.
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Pick one of the steps from above that you need to practice. Try it today.
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Author, Lecturer, Parenting Coach