Are you concerned because trying to communicate and connect with your kids is hard? You are competing with video games, friends, school, sports, hormones, growing pains and lack of interest on their part.
Please believe me as a parent educator, mom, gram, auntie, neighbor and friend that being pro-active in getting and staying connected is worth it. A solid foundation of loving adults and caring family is a strong leg up in life.
Those kids who know they are loved and will be protected by the adults In their lives have a much time becoming self-reliant and confident. Often it is just small adjustments in our vocabulary and facial expressions that allows our children to open up and share with us.
- Model polite behavior. Instead of “you say you are sorry right now young man” Say “Please, thank you, excuse me, I apologize, Can I help you, will you forgive me, I am glad to meet you,and other courtesy words that makes relationships flow smoother. When you force your kids or spouse to say I’m sorry, it is obvious it is not heart-felt and filled with empathy. When they see you being polite, courteous and aware of the feelings of others, they will follow suit. What you do is always more potent than what you say.
- Watch Labels and nicknames. Labels tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies and
when you tell a kid he is lazy enough times, he believes you. Instead of “You are so lazy. You have been playing video games all day.” Say “Okay it sounds like you have had fun playing your game, but now it is time to play outside.” Our daughter uses electronics as a reward for hours reading or playing outside the kids can earn points to watch an equal number of television or play approved video games.
- 3. Nudge don’t nag. If you explain consequences and have a few agreed upon rules (see Family Councils at http://www.ArtichokePress.com) you won’t need to nag, nag, nag. Just refer to the rule in a kind but firm voice. Be consistent and they will believe you. Be inconsistent and they will try to manipulate the rule. They aren’t manipulative and devious, they are kids. Instead of “How many times do I need to tell you to put your bike away.Say “bikes belong in the garage.”
- 4. Give Children a voice and a choice. If your goal as a caring adult is to help your child to help themselves, then you need to allow them to make choices, and sometimes learn from their mistakes. You are not going to allow them to choose whether they will attend school or not, or whether to jump off the roof into the bushes or the concrete. You are going to guide them to have responsibility for their choices. Instead of “put this green shirt on and let’s go, we are late again.” Say “do you want Cheerios or yogart with fruit for breakfast? Maybe tomorrow if we get up earlier, we can make ham and cheese omelets, but today you get to choose between Cheerios or Yogurt.”
- 5. Encourage the process, rather than praising the product. It is often easy for parents to praise, praise, praise or criticize, criticize criticize. Neither one gets the result we are hoping for. Praising lavishly everything a child does gives them an unrealistic view of Want to raise kids that are Responsible, Respectful and Resilient? See http://amzn.to/kindlebyJudy
Never give up. Just keep trying to find ways to build strong connections of communication with your kids. I have confidence in you and your ability to touch the hearts of those you love in gentle and supportive ways. For more support, be sure to sign up for the free e-zine at http://www.askauntieartichoke.com You will be glad you did.