Good communication between you and your child can make your bond stronger and make them happier and more confident. As children get older, having a good relationship can also make talking about difficult subjects less challenging. Here are some tips from a family therapist on how to effectively communicate with your child.
Facilitating open communication with your child when they’re young can help you develop a positive relationship and make it easier for them to feel comfortable confiding in you as they grow. Setting aside time to play with your child every day lets them know they are important to you. Having fun with them is also a great opportunity to talk and learn more about how they think and feel. Whether they’re a preschooler or teen; positive reinforcement works wonders — it’s vital to praise your child when they do something right. This type of feedback makes it more likely they will behave in a positive way again.
Children’s feelings are sometimes very intense, emotional and immediate. Often, they just need to be reassured everything is okay. Creating a comfortable space for your child to talk can help them (and you) understand how to navigate challenges and make good decisions. Being there for your child when they want to talk becomes even more important as they grow into adolescents.
Regardless of age, giving your child your full attention when they are trying to talk to you lets them know you care about what they have to say. Technology and the demands of chores, work and other obligations can make it easy to become distracted. Put down your phone, turn off the TV, look your child in the eyes and listen.
Like adults, children just want to be heard. Actively listen to your child when they’re speaking to you. When they’re done, take a quick pause before you speak. Gentle follow-up questions like “How do you feel about that?” or “Tell me more about it,” can keep the conversation going, encourage your child to open up and deepen your connection. If there’s something specific on your child’s mind, make sure to follow up in a day or two.
Consider Your Child’s Unique Personality
Some children are very chatty while others are more reticent and take time to open up to conversation. Pay attention to how your child responds, and adjust your communication style according to their needs. If know your child is usually hungry and cranky after school, it’s probably not the best time to start a conversation. Something as simple as taking a walk in the park can put you both in a better mood and lead to more meaningful conversation.
A family therapist can help you and your child learn how to effectively communicate, show love and help you create a healthy emotional connection that lasts a lifetime. Contact a family therapist at Kayenta to schedule an appointment.