Conversing with a kid has its challenges, yet it can also be one of the most rewarding parenting experiences. The day may start with a round of the “why” game and end with a 20-minute intimate and thoughtful conversation that leaves you reeling.
As a parent, you learn quickly that communication is not necessarily about comprehension, but more about perception.
It’s important to avoid a superiority complex and instead focus on equality. In this regard, our kids will perceive trust and belief in their abilities. Equality also encourages open, honest, and mature communication that they can use throughout their life.
Of course, it’s never as simple as that.
This balance between equality and respecting parental authority is a slippery one!
Remember, you won’t be a great and powerful equalizer every single day. Parents end up playing the dictator role on occasion.
And that’s okay!
You’re not perfect.
Take a deep breath.
Try some of these simple communication tips to keep your head level and equalized!
- Communicate at eye level. Active listening is one of the most important tools at a parent’s disposal. Physical action — such as kneeling or squatting when speaking with your kid — is incredibly influential in creating an equal communicative style. Getting on the same eye level with your child helps them feel safe, in control, shows your giving your full attention, and “signals that you’re willing and ready to engage.”
- Practice the “treat others as you would like to be treated” rule. When all else fails, simply use the rule that we all (hopefully!) try to live by. In those moments of pure frustration, ask yourself how you would like to be spoken to. Use this as a tool to communicate with your kid in the toughest of times!
- Embrace options. Finding a balance between “mandatory” and “free-choice” relies heavily on options. By offering options, you’re not only allowing a bit of independence, but you’re also showing an interest in your kid’s opinion. This is a great way to show equality through actions and communication!
- Create talking rituals. You may have already noticed that your kid has a unique conversational style. Embrace and respect this style and build “talking rituals.” Whether it’s quiet time in the morning or an in-depth conversation about their dreams first thing after waking. Harness, embrace, and use their natural conversational flow to build communication skills!
- Encourage story telling. It may take your kid an extra 15 minutes to get to the point of their story, but it’s worth it! Instead of filling in the gaps to help them finish faster, ask questions about the plot. This not only encourages your child’s emotional literacy, but it helps “your child feel heard and [shows] you are interested in the whole story,” creating an equal sharing of information.