Four Strategies to Connect with Your Child
Everyone wants to feel connected to the people they love, that they are heard and valued. Everyone believes that what they have to say is important. Children are no different. As a parent, life coach and prevention specialist, I have found connective communication to be an effective way to speak to kids, especially when you want to talk to them about drugs and alcohol.
Everyone wants to feel connected to the people they love, that they are heard and valued. Everyone believes that what they have to say is important. Children are no different.
As a parent, life coach and prevention specialist, I have found connective communication to be an effective way to speak to kids, especially when you want to talk to them about drugs and alcohol.
What is connective communication? It all begins with listening. Listening is the key to connecting. As parents, we tend to get emotional and end up lecturing our children. Making a conscious decision to do less preaching and more listening is the first step to connective communication.
Once you have shifted into an open receptive mode, these four simple strategies will be easy to work into conversations with your child.
Acknowledge your child. Acknowledging is repeating back what your child has said in your own words. This tells the messenger that you have heard them. If what you repeat back is incorrect, your child will let you know.
Validating your child is different than acknowledging. It is letting your child know they have the right to feel the way they feel. Accepting the way our children feel is difficult. We want them to feel fine and if they don’t, we want to fix things. The truth is, sometimes things aren’t fine and kids need to talk. If they are not talking to you, they will find someone else. Parents need to let go, accept feelings and allow their children to feel. This builds resilient children.
Reframing what your child has said gives you the ability to empathize, to put yourself in their shoes without judging them. It’s being able to feel what they are feeling, whether you agree with them or not.
Stop, Breathe and Respond
When your child says something that creates an instantaneous reaction, it can take us back to a situation long ago forgotten, but lodged in our subconscious mind. We react without thinking and then we are sorry for the words that have been spoken.
When this happens, we need to stop, breathe and then respond with purpose. Not react with emotion.
To complicate communication, children are constantly seeking our approval. Questions requiring responses and being sensitive to responses, whether they are positive or negative, foster openness and trust. This encourages our kids to share what’s really going on.
Implementing these communication strategies can be easier said than done. Why? Because most of us believe we already use them. We don’t.
The next time you begin to react emotionally or tell your child things aren’t so bad and they will get better, take time to think about your approach and the response you are getting. Parents often sabotage themselves, creating more of the behavior they are trying to avoid. Be part of the solution instead of the problem.
If a child’s response is “Mom, you don’t get it,” or they storm out of the room, you’re probably not connecting.
The intent behind our words doesn’t matter. What matters is how our message is received. We can’t ignore feelings. Feelings are real. Feelings aren’t good or bad; they’re just feelings.
This article was written by Terry Budlong, MCCA Director of Prevention Services and Co-Chair for STMAD. The goal of prevention services in Danbury is to help keep youth safe through education. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.standtogetherdanbury.org. Connect with us on Facebook at facebook.com/STMAD.Danbury.