Tips to foster meaningful chats with your child

by | Jul 11, 2018 | Children's Health, Articles, Mental Health

Safety & security don’t just happen. They are the result of collective consciousness united with public investment. We owe children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, to live a life free of fear- filled instead with confidence, resilience & independence to feel safe to be themselves as they grow & follow their dreams.

Fear can make or break a child. Fear can make or break life’s path for any of us, but open COMMUNICATION is the key to growing through their challenges & filing their life with fulfilment! Take time to talk WITH them, not just talk TO them, involve them in making decisions, & reinforce your commitment to guiding, supporting & protecting them. When children experience secure & supportive relationships, they feel valued & respected, which carries on to how they treat other people their entire life! Show your love & appreciation for your family this weekend

No pressure, comparison or expectation- just give them so much love it becomes imprinted in their heart & even when they experience challenges throughout life as they grow, they never ever forget the love of family is always there to come home to!

Healthy communication rests at the heart of every healthy relationship, including between parents and children.

These tips are focused on having meaningful chats with your child and will help deepen your relationship, meaning you’ll both feel more connected.

1. Listen more than you talk

As philosopher Epictetus once said, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”

Being an active listener when speaking to your child is an important skill to practice. Give them your full attention during your conversations, showing them that you’re interested in what they have to say. This includes making eye contact and leaving distracting things, like your cell phone, aside from your talks. When it is your turn to speak, respond thoughtfully. Later on, you might bring up part of your conversation to show your child that you remember what they said. It’s also crucial that you listen for anything your child says that could be concerning to you as their parent. Maybe they are direct when speaking about their emotions, but even if they aren’t, the things they do say can give you some insight into what they are truly feeling.

2. Empathise with the child and their message

Avoid giving instant solutions to your child. Advice can come later, when/if they ask for it.

Children love to hear stories about all sorts of things, but it can be very special for a child to hear stories about their parents. As their parent, you should feel free to share stories with your child, but only share stories that serve a positive purpose. Don’t share stories with your child in such a way that might be perceived negatively. This might include unflattering or inappropriate stories about your co-parent or other adults in your child’s life. Consider your child’s age and maturity level before sharing any story with them, as to ensure that they will correctly understand the point of it.

3. Show acceptance

Clearly communicate acceptance of the child and what they are trying to say.

Some children love to chat about anything, while other children tend to be more reserved. Whether your child is open or quiet, what’s important is that they feel as though they can come to you as their parent for anything.

Even if talking really isn’t your child’s favourite thing, just spending some quiet time with them can help to encourage them to open up when they need to.

4. Talk with your child, rather than at him/her

Facilitate a two-way conversation, rather than giving a lecture. Children of all ages want to be understood, not preached to. They are also far more likely to take your advice on board if they have felt included in the conversation.

5. Request, don’t demand

Requests are best made in a simple, positive, one- or two-step process. Do not demand… ask kindly and with respect.

6. Treat your child as an equal

Communicate with your children at eye level, rather than from above. Take a seat together, or crouch down with young ones. This way the communication is both less threatening and more supportive.

7. Discuss change openly

Change doesn’t have to be scary, so when we talk about change openly and allow a child to participate in the conversation around change, they will feel more in control and comfortable about the changes happening around them. Where you can, invite them to ask you questions about changes and invite them to be involved in helping with the change.  A prime example is when a child is getting ready to start school. Make time to check in with your child and sit down with them to talk about school.

Some great conversation starters include asking your child these following questions:
“What are you looking forward to about school”,
“Is there anything you’re unsure about when it comes to school?”,
“Is there anything that you’re worried about?”,
“What is something you’d like your teacher to know about you when you start school?”,
“What do you think happens at school?”,

These questions will give your child an opportunity to talk to you about different aspects of school and helps them to think about things they might not have yet, to help them explore the change ahead in a comfortable and safe environment with you, while getting comfortable with the idea of the change.

These questions and method can be applied to any changes coming up in your child’s life.

8. Create talking rituals.

Observe your child’s conversational style. You’ve heard about learning or attention styles, but our kids have hard-wired conversational styles that don’t change much. One child may be a lively morning talker. Another is barely human before the bus arrives, but after school it’s no-holds-barred banter. One of your children likes a lot of back and forth, another needs to talk at a slower pace, a third can’t tolerate questions. The key to openness is to not change what is unchangeable, but instead to respect natural times and ways of talking. Build what I call “talking rituals” around them: 15 minutes of driving together or downtime side-by-side in the evening may be all you need to make that connection.

9. Gather knowledge

Look around you for information and resources to increase your awareness of great parenting techniques. Remember there is no perfect parent, child, or family. We all do our best with what we know.

Here are some excellent books to start with:

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk, also by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Choices: A Calm and Punishment-Free Way to Raise Happy and Confident Children, by Robbie Zein
Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds, by Ruth E. Van Reken and David C. Pollock

10. You count, too.

This is big in our child-centered world. Talk about yourself if you want your kids to talk about themselves. Next time at dinner, spend a few moments opening up about your day. Your child will interrupt, and I guarantee you won’t get to the end of the story. The reason it’s such a conversation trigger is that when you talk about yourself it reminds kids about things in their distant memory three hours earlier. For example, if you say, “I had an argument with one of my friends at work,” your child might well respond, “I had a fight with Jenny during gym.” And a special note about dinnertime: grill the food not your kids. Endless queries such as “How was school?” are conversation-busters. As one pre-teen told me, “It feels like I have to produce all over again at dinner.”

Regularly remind yourself of all the above steps so you fully grasp and implement them.

 

To learn more on how to further improve your health, book a consultation with Dr Rachel Murphy (Osteopath, Clinical Nutritionist) at the Family Wellness Group in Surrey hills.

Call 9898 0222 or book online here.  

Dr Rachel Murphy

Dr Rachel Murphy

In clinical practice, I continue to pursue passion for treating infants and children as well as pregnancy care, including pre and postnatal support. I have a strong belief that environment plays a crucial role in health and well being, and therefore treatment management must also include advice on exercise and nutrition, ergonomics, stretching, rehabilitation and lifestyle modification.
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About Family Wellness Group

Family Wellness Group is a centre of allied health practitioners working alongside other health care providers, with the common goal of improving the health and wellness of all patients. We specialise in pediatrics but services at our Surrey Hills clinic are available for all ages.

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