How Can I Help My Child?
You can help your
child to deal w/emotional issues by listening in a caring, nonjudgmental manner. Willingness on your part, patience & a trusting relationship are the main requirements when helping your child cope during a difficult time.
Children need their parents to listen to them thru positive times as well as challenging ones & patience is critical as many young children are unable to verbalize their fears & emotions.
It may be helpful to set aside
a specific time to discuss your child's worries or concerns. During this time, turn off the TV & let the answering machine
record your phone messages. This will let your child know that she is your first priority.
Listed below are more guidelines
that may help you to foster open communication & problem solving within your family.
- Talk openly & frequently
w/your child & let him know that you care.
- Set a positive example for
your child by taking care of your own physical & emotional needs.
- Enlist the support of your
partner, immediate family members, your child's doctor & teachers.
- Join a support group for
- Improve communication by
having regular family meetings.
- Set limits on inappropriate or problematic behaviors. Ask your child's therapist for some strategies to encourage your child's cooperation.
- Communicate frequently
w/your child's therapist.
- Be open to hearing all types
of feedback from your child & from her therapist.
- Spend time w/your child &
participate in her favorite activities or hobbies.
Remember that early intervention & recognition of a problem will help you get the best
care for your child's emotional problems.
The Top 10 Tips for Communication
With Children - by Dr. Clare Albright, Psychologist & Professional Coach
Most people have
more training before they receive their driver's license than before they become a parent.
on how to communicate effectively with your child can be the key to achieving your parenting goals.
If you don't have children
of your own, these 10 tips can help you whenever you're around children.
Draw children out to speak about the things on their minds. You can 'prime the pump' by talking with them about their favorite
foods, toys, movies, video games, etc.
2. Verbally reflect the emotions of a child
before giving in to your need to teach them something. Parents are constantly making the error of educating their child when
their child expresses pain. "I hate my nose" is often responded to with, "you have a perfectly good nose" & the child
is left to feel all alone with what could become an enormous problem for them in years to come.
3. Teach your child to wait instead of interrupting your conversations. One technique is to teach your children
to lightly touch your arm & to wait peacefully & quietly to be acknowledged by you. Children who interrupt miss a
chance to learn to control their impulses & can upset the flow of an adult's conversation.
4. Play little games whenever you see children. For example, you could put something such as a coin in a hand
behind your back & ask the child to guess which hand it is in. This is a way to build a strong connection with a child
& make a child feel honored.
5. Lower yourself physically to a child's level
by sitting down, bending down, or sitting on the floor. It may have been months since any adult has joined the child on their
6. Hold and play with a child's toys or trinkets. Play is the language
of a child. If you stop for even 30 seconds to draw a picture alongside of a child who is coloring, you could become one of
7. Tell short stories to children. Make the stories up or pull them
from your own childhood. Stories can be used to build a connection, to teach a lesson, or just to leave a child feeling better
than when the conversation began.
8. Follow up on the promises that you make to
children with action. Children are usually more hurt than adults by broken promises. Ironically, many people treat their promises
to children as less important than their promises to adults.
9. Sacrifice some of
your time to interact with children & to focus on them 100%. Most adults don't interact with children who are present
because the children aren't able to meet their needs the way that an adult can. 5 minutes invested in the life of a child
will pay dividends that an hour invested in the life of an adult may not.
the art of Socratic questioning. This means that instead of expressing facts or lecturing that you ask a question to stimulate
the child's own reasoning process. Socratic questioning opens up a place in a person's mind for the answer to be remembered.
For example, you could ask, "How do you think we could take better care of the puppy?" instead of telling your child what
6 Ways to Communicate Clearly with Your Teen - By Christine G. McGogy
How would you like to have a closer relationship with your teen again?
Your ability to communicate
effectively with your teen is one of the most precious skills you can develop to
achieve this goal.
When we think of communication, we tend to think only of the way we can express ourselves. This is certainly important, but listening is the single most crucial of all communication skills.
a mother of two teenage boys I know that it isn't always easy to communicate well with your
It's particularly frustrating when they aren't talking to you. However, when I started applying these techniques to our lives, I found that we started
getting along better almost immediately. There was less arguing between us & our relationship became stronger.
1. Make Your Teen Your Focus
Give your teen your full attention.
I know that this is a toughie, because we tend to be so busy. It seems like we're always multi-tasking.
However, it's important in clear communicating that you make a point of stopping what you're doing & really
listen to your teen (rather than just hearing them).
When you give your teen your undivided attention they'll know that you care, because you took the time to listen & it'll increase the chances that they'll listen to you.
2. Get the Details
Hear what your teen
is really saying! Teens tend to give terse answers to questions, leaving out details that may be important. It's
up to you to be able to get them to open up & draw them into a conversation.
Here's an example:
"I hate my teacher!"
Parent: "Oh, you don't really mean that!"
Teen: "Yes, I do, I double hate him!"
Parent: "Well, I don't want to hear that kind of talk.
I'm sure you don't really hate him!"
Teen: "Yes, I do so, I hate all teachers!"
Parent: "Do you think hating your teachers is going to get you a good mark?"
And on & on the arguing goes....
Here’s an alternative:
Teen: "I hate my teacher!"
Parent: "Wow, you don't normally hate anybody. What did he do to get you talking like that?"
Teen: "A couple of kids didn't have their homework
finished again today, so he decided to punish all of us by giving us a math test tomorrow!"
Parent: "That doesn't sound very fair!"
Teen: "No, it isn't fair at all. I wanted to go over to Rachel's tonight to hang out & listen to music. Instead I have to study for that stupid
test. I'm so mad at my teacher! He ruins everything!"
Parent: just listening....
This teen was able to express herself & felt validated by her parent.
You'll notice that the parent didn't argue about the feelings the teen had. You don't have to agree with your teen’s feelings; just acknowledge them. There's no such thing as a wrong feeling.
We can’t help what our teens may feel, however,
we should set limits on behaviors that don’t satisfy what we consider appropriate behavior.
Expressing one's feelings is a healthy thing; although negative expressions of one’s feelings should be avoided; like screaming or name calling. A good way to avoid this is using ‘time outs’ - wait &
continue the conversation when everybody has calmed down.
3. Open-Ended Questions
be crucial to communicating with your teen. Ask them questions that they can't just answer
with a “yes” or a “no”.
For example in the above scenario
the parent could ask the teen,
"What could you do to help your teacher change his mind about the test?"
Teen: "I'm not sure - this guy is so stubborn!"
Parent: "If you talked to him & came up with better
ways for him to deal with the kids that aren't doing their homework?"
Teen: "Mmhhh, maybe I could give it a try....?"
4. Criticize Behaviors, Not Your Teen
Now, let's move
from the listening to the talking part of communication.
When you want to see a change in your teen's behavior, use the:
"when you...I feel...because...I need ...”
Using this wording (known
as “ I “ message) doesn't attack your teen's personality; it merely talks about their action & that you'd like it changed & why.
Here's a scenario you might relate to:
Parent: "You didn't do your chores! You're such a
lazy slob! You never do your chores & I always have to do them for you. Next time you don't do them I'm going to ground
you for a week!
Teen: feeling pretty lousy...
Now here's an example with using the: when you...I feel...because...I need – technique:
Parent: "When you didn't do your chores before going out, I felt
really mad. We had an agreement about chores being done before going out & I need you to do your part of the chores or I'm stuck doing them for you.”
Teen: thinking - “I guess that makes sense.”
Remember when you start a sentence
you aren’t communicating. You're criticizing!
5. Let the Consequence Fit the Action
A fairly big problem that parents run into is looking for suitable punishment for broken rules. However, the
penalty applied usually isn't related to the teen’s action. As parents, we need to show our teens that each choice they make has consequences.
Parents tend to
punish their teens by taking away something the adolescent enjoys; i.e., no TV for a week. Take the above example of the unwashed
It would be more beneficial to the development of
your teen if you base the penalty on a natural connection between his action & the punishment.
A good way of showing the consequences to his action
in this instance would be having your teen do your chores as well as his next time, since you had to do his this time.
When following this step you're practicing "silent communication" with your teen. Letting your teen experience the natural consequence of
his actions speaks louder than any words ever would! It illustrates to them that they'll be held accountable for what they do.
As they grow teens tend to get more privileges from parents.
It's important for them to realize that with the extra freedom there's more responsibility that goes along with it.
6. Using Descriptive Praise
We all praise our teen sometimes. We tell them
- "You're a good piano player."
etc. We mean well, but unfortunately this kind of praise doesn't get the desired effect of making your teen feel good about himself. Why is that?
It's because what we're doing is evaluating their actions. With
this type of praise, we aren’t giving evidence to support our claims & this makes the praise fall flat & seem
empty & unconvincing.
We need to describe in detail what they're doing & as your
teen recognizes the truth in your words they can then evaluate his actions & credit themselves.
Here's an example
Teen: "Hey Ma, I got a
90 on my geometry test!"
Parent: "Fantastic! You're a genius!"
Teen: thinking- "I wish. I only got it 'cause Paul helped me study. He's the genius."
Teen: "Hey Ma, I got a 90 on my geometry test!"
Parent: "You must be so pleased. You did a lot of
studying for that test!"
Teen: thinking - "I can really do geometry when I work at it!"
Describing your teen's action rather
then evaluating them with an easy "good" or "great" or labeling like
isn't easy to do at first, because we're all unaccustomed to doing it.
However, once you get into the habit of looking carefully
at your teen's action & putting it into words what you see, you'll do it more & more easily & with growing pleasure.
Adolescents need the kind of emotional nourishment that'll help them become independent, creative thinkers & doers, so they aren't looking to others for approval all the time. With this sort of praise, teens will trust themselves & they won’t need everybody else's opinion to tell them how they're doing.
Another challenging problem is when & how we criticize our teens. Instead of pointing out what's wrong with your teen’s actions, try describing
what's right & then what still needs doing.
Example: Teen hasn't done his laundry yet.
Parent: "How's the laundry coming?
Teen: "I'm working on it."
Parent: "I see that you picked up your clothes in
your room & in the family room & put it in the hamper. You're half way there."
parent talks with encouragement, acknowledging what has been done so far rather then pointing out what hasn't been done yet.
more helpful information and examples on good communication with your child I highly recommend the book by Adele Faber &
Elaine Mazlish called: How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So They Will Talk,
Publisher: Harper, ISBN:0380811960.
Also, in the Fall 2005 a new teen version of the book is scheduled to be published
“How to Talk so Teens Will Listen” –
ISBN: 0060741252. Keep your eye out for it!
"Parents need to fill a child's bucket of self-esteem so high that the rest of the world can't poke enough holes in it to drain it dry."
- Alvin Price
Be sure to click here to open a window at "the layer down under," another site within the
emotional feelings network of 28+ sites! The article is very insightful and is helpful for new parents as well as parents
with teenagers! It's at the bottom of the page once you click on the above link - scroll down to the bottom of the left hand
Talking With Kids Openly & Honestly About Sexuality By Michael McGee,
C.S.T., Vice President of Education & Social Marketing, Planned Parenthood Federation of America
i've just gotta say it!
the above article is so "right on!" the money! Anyone who has dealt
with teens, or can remember back well enough to what being a teen was like, knows that teens are all about anything that has
to do with their own selves! It's all about them! Anything that has to do with them is Important
with a capital "I"!
I know from experience if I am doing something, like working on the computer
and my son has something to tell me, if I don't stop typing and look straight at him, looking into his eyes, all attention
on him - he is the most important thing in my world right now! - he has a tendency to physically, lay on me, sit on my lap,
trying to block out the computer. He wants all attention on his importance.
I believe it's a good thing to push this positive behavior, taking the
time to look into his eyes, making him feel important every time it's possible. I have to remind myself sometimes when I'm
really pushed for time, but think about it.... "we all want to be the most important thing in our loved ones' world!" It's
Honor your teen, showing the teen how to communicate effectively, by:
- stopping whatever you're doing when they need to communicate with you
- make eye contact
- be involved in their feelings & emotions
- validate their feelings & emotions being expressed by repeating important statements
- offer understanding
- thanking your teen for communicating with you is always a bonus! they love it!
Remember, you're teaching your teen how to have positive relationship skills
that will be needed for successful future college, career & even marriage relationships. Just think how you like to be
communicated with & use that same behavior with your teen!
More Effective Communication
with Children Robert Elias Najemy
Today we're experiencing an
ever-growing communication gap between parents, teachers & the children whom they're responsible for. Only thru honest & sincere communication can we help our children to become honest, healthy & happy individuals.
Some of the basic concepts
of communication expressed in earlier chapters are repeated here with emphasis on communication with children.
The Basis of Communication
The guidelines for effective communication with children are, of course, the same as those for communication
between all human beings.
The basis of communication
is the golden rule, "do to others as you'd like others to do to you". So we simply need to ask, "how we'd like others to communication with us?"
Here are some thoughts:
1. We'd all like honesty from all who communication with us. No one likes being told lies. Nor do we like people
to make up stories & excuses. We'd like to hear the truth about what the other is thinking, feeling or doing.
We feel safer, more able to cope with any situation when we know what we're dealing with. The same holds for our children. When we tell them lies, they feel insecure & distrustful of the world around them. They learn to tell lies. There can be no communication in such a case. Although the truth might not always be the easiest response, it's always the "soulution"
2. We all
want logical reasoning & explanations from the person who's communicating with us. If
he or she speaks in an irrational way, or says, "look it'll simply be done this way & I have no intention of explaining to you why; do it that way because I said so, because I want it that way, although it seems illogical", we
will not feel very happy.
We'll feel that the other
has no interest in our needs or feelings. We'll feel that he or she isn't respecting us. This is the way our children feel when we give orders or make statements without explaining the reasons behind them.
is too young to be spoken to with reason & logic. Even if he or she can't grasp all the factors involved, he or she will
at least feel respected. That's extremely important.
3. Respect is absolutely essential in communication. We need to respect both ourselves & the other. That means that on the one hand, we don't suppress that which we want or feel & on the
other, we don't suppress the other.
It also means that we don't
shout at, criticize or demean the others with harsh words. We wouldn't like to be talked to in this way. Children are even more sensitive & vulnerable to shouting & harsh words. Their self-image & sense of security are seriously undermined.
Respect breeds respect. When we show respect to our children during their early years they'll return this behavior in the later years. If we frequently criticize, blame, demean or speak down to them, we'll find that during adolescence, this lack of respect will then be returned to us.
4. We all want to be loved. We want to know that the other person cares for us, accepts us. It isn't necessary for them to agree with us or accept all that we do or believe.
We can accept each other despite our differences. This kind of unconditional acceptance is essential for open, honest communication.
If we feel that the other's
going to get angry, reject us or nag me for something which we'll tell him or her, then we'll likely not communicate
at all with that person. This is a situation children get into frequently.
we continuously criticize & advise our children, they gradually stop telling us what they're doing. They stop communicating, because whatever they'll say will be criticized. Or they may start criticizing us. They start
rejecting whatever we say. They may do this with words or with actions which symbolize rebellion, independence & rejection of our beliefs.
Assurance that there will always be love & acceptance, whatever the one or the other may do, keeps the channel open for honest communication.
We're talking about accepting the being & not every action which he or she may perform. This distinction is important. We can express our displeasure or disagreement concerning a particular belief or behavior, while still feeling love & acceptance for the child.
5. Our children look for consistency from their elders. We've discussed this in the previous chapter. When there's no consistency between words & actions, the basis of communication breaks down, because words have
no meaning they're empty.
6. Communication is a 2 way process. We
need to learn to speak & to listen We don't like communicating with someone who talks continuously & doesn't allow us
a chance to express ourselves. On the other hand, neither do we like it when we speak & the other doesn't respond. A balance is needed.
Most of us need to learn to listen more. Children need a sounding board for their thoughts, discoveries & problems. If we aren't capable of listening properly our children will close up & /or find someone else to talk with.
If we care for our bodies & minds,
they'll care for us.
More Effective Communication
with Children - Part 2
Robert Elias Najemy
How We Communicate
mention how most people communicate now. There are 2 basic categories:
The 1st group of self-suppressors eventually develops various physical & psychological problems, thru the suppression
of their needs, emotions & beliefs.
The 2nd group may manage to get what they want
from the others, but they also cause the others to develop feelings of resentment towards them.
Neither of these methods of communicate
What then is the alternative?
There's a 3rd possibility in which we communicate the
truth & don't suppress our feelings, beliefs or needs. But we express ourselves without demeaning or blaming the other in anyway.
We maintain respect for ourselves & for the other. We neither speak up to nor down towards the other, but rather directly & openly, as 2 mature adults, who are taking responsibility for their lives & their realities.
This is absolutely essential in our communicate with children.
That belief could be called a "programming". What we feel is a result of what we believe about what's happening. What we believe is dependent on our childhood experiences & conclusions.
how we feel in certain situations & thus they affect how we act towards our children & others.
We need to be able to understand what we're feeling & why we're feeling that way, so that we can communicate the truth to the child.
This is effective communication - the truth.
Most often we don't communicate the truth. We don't want to lie, but we simply haven't yet discovered the truth. We haven't yet analyzed ourselves to discover why we're feeling the way we are.
We haven't analyzed
our programmings & beliefs to see whether they're logical or simply learned thoughts, patterns, habits & fears which we've been programmed into us & which are causing us to mechanically transfer our beliefs, prejudices, fears & expectations onto our children.
There can be no evolution in this way. And where there's no
evolution eventually there's revolution. When we fail to continue to grow, then we obviously come into conflict with the forces of change & evolution which are working thru our children. The result is conflict between us.
We aren't suggesting
that we adopt our children's beliefs or ways, but rather that we simply do some self-analysis to examine our programmings, needs, motives, expectations & fears to see if they're valid, fair & practical.
Emotions are the Result of our Interpretations of Reality
Our emotions aren't so much the function of what others do or what happens in the world. How we feel is a function of how we interpret
the world & events around us.
observing the same event, will feel differently depending on his or her childhood programming, expectations, attachments & fears.
No 2 people will feel
exactly the same while observing the same event, or receiving the same stimulus.
What does this
have to do with communication?
communicate what we feel. This is true even when we try to suppress or hide our feelings. They're transmitted like radar to those around us without
words or expression.
We often fail to express what we really feel. We might express anger & rejection to our children (or others) when in reality we're feeling fear or self-doubt. This isn't truthful communication.
first emotion is self-doubt, disappointment or fear & then we feel anger. But we express only the anger.
although not really meant, are taken very seriously by children & are programmed into their subconscious mind. They then begin to make those words come true.
Or they may spend
their whole life trying to prove that they're not true. No matter how much they may prove
it, however, they may never succeed in believing that they're okay because they're programmed deep inside to doubt their worth.
Such messages are called "you-messages" &
are based on the false idea that the other is responsible for how we feel. Our programming & expectations are responsible for how we feel. We create our inner reality with how we interpret the events around us.
"You-messages" are destructive to our children's self-image & close the door to open communication. We may succeed in making our children behave in this way but we'll lose our loving contact & cause them to have serious problems.
A more effective
method of communication is called the "I - message."
More Effective Communication with Children - Part 3
Robert Elias Najemy
"I - MESSAGES"
We learned in
previous chapters that in the I-message we explain to the child what we are really feeling & the thoughts, beliefs, expectations, fears & attachments that create those feelings within us. We communicate:
1. The various emotions which we're having.
2. The beliefs & programmings which are creating these emotions.
3. What stimulus or behavior on the part of the child triggers this mechanism.
4. How we usually act towards the child when we feel that way.
5. What we need & are asking from the child. (Perhaps some help or behavior change.)
6. Then we ask the child to explain how he or she feels & we exercise active listening.
Let's take an example. A child brings home low grades. This is the stimulus, the
event which is perceived by the parents' senses. Let's examine some of the emotions, which the parents might feel w/this event.
may be strongly affected. Others may approach the problem more rationally & effectively w/out panic & family crisis.
Now what are some of the programmings or beliefs which a parent may have which may create some of these emotions. It's important to examine these, because, we may be being controlled by false programmings which may cause us to express anger or rejection towards the child, which, in this case, is probably the last thing he or she needs.
The child too
is obviously having a problem. This is a time when he or she needs to feel support & help in understanding what's preventing him or her from using his or her abilities to a greater extent. Rejection or harsh words will only make the child react more negatively or close into himself or herself.
I-Messages About Low Grades
So, why is the parent feeling what he feels? What are some of the programmings or beliefs which control his mind?
1. A child must have high grades in order to succeed in the world.
A parent who is programmed in this way will feel fear about the child's future & failure in his role as parent to prepare his child for the world.
Thus his or her "I-message"
would be something like this, "John, I'd like to talk w/you. I have a problem. I feel responsible for your future. I believe that it's my responsibility to do whatever I can to help you be successful & happy in your life.
I also believe that high grades are essential for your survival & success & happiness in the future. Perhaps I'm not giving you something which you need. I'd really like to talk about this in detail. How do you feel? Is there anything which is bothering you or preventing you
With this kind of "I-message" which leads into active listening in which we help the child to open up to us, the child is less likely to feel accused or hurt. Thus he or she will not need to react negatively or close up. There will be a greater possibility of open, honest, effective communication.
At the same time, the
parent would do well to examine those programmings which he has. It's true that success & happiness depend on high grades at school? Does this theory hold up? Are the highly educated & very rich really happy & healthy? Perhaps some are. Did those who are successful, dynamic, happy, productive members of society have high grades or are there other factors involved?
higher grades can be had by one who knows how to memorize & be a robot at school. Does that mean that he or she can think,
analyze & communicate w/people? Does that mean that he or she is ethical or able to
function in our society?
Perhaps too much
importance is being given to one of the many factors that may help our children survive & succeed in life. There are many others which may be much important in our child's life such as morality, character, love for others, self-respect, self-confidence, enthusiasm, creativity, concern for others & various other talents which the child may have.
When we worry
& pressure our children on the basis of this one factor, we risk destroying all the others in the conflict that takes place. In general, the most creative & analytical minds can't thrive in the mechanized uncreative school system.
2. A second belief a parent may have is that "I'm successful if my child is successful & unsuccessful if my child fails."
In this case we might explain this programming to the child. But do we have the
right to ask the child to conform to some sort of behavior that simply fulfils our subjective programmings & expectations?
Why should our
children be forced to fulfil our expectations so that we can feel successful? That child may have been born to take a completely different road, to have other experiences that have nothing to do w/our
expectations or our definition of success.
We may be defining success w/conditions like plenty of money, high professional position, or high social status. But will that particular personality
who is now our child be happy in that role?
Does money really
bring happiness? Do people in high positions seem happier than others? Are they enjoying life? Are they healthy?
Do they have
harmony w/those around them? What do we want for our children, success in the eyes of society or health, happiness & harmony?
In some cases
they may be able to have all that. In other cases, they may conflict. We can't know. There's a small voice in the child that does know.
for our children to decide what they want to do w/their lives. Their inner voice will guide them sooner or later to the role
that they as souls have come to play on earth.
If we believe that we're successful if our children are successful we need to examine the difference between efforts & results. As parents our responsible for our efforts & motives. Not for the results.
children can verify that although they treat the different children much in the same way, they react in completely differently.
It seems that each child brings w/him or her some already developed traits, which are independent of their childhood programmings.
How we behave towards our children & how we live our lives are extremely important factors in our children's character development. But they're not the only factors. So we can't judge ourselves based on the results of what happens w/our children. We only evaluate our motives & efforts.
Have our motives
been pure? Have we always done what we've thought at that time was best for our children (regardless of whether today we see that we might have
made other choices). Have we always tried to do the best of our ability w/the energy & consciousness which we had
at every moment in the past?
point this will help us be at ease w/our conscience & will free us from the need to force our children to succeed in our terms, so that we can feel that we're successful parents. This is a great weight for our children to carry. We wouldn't like to carry this weight & we have no right to
place it on them.
These fears cause us to feel anger. Thus, the "you - message" to our children that they're no good, isn't the complete truth. We need to analyze our own needs for affirmation & approval from others, our doubt about our abilities as a parent & the various other emotions, which we may have had before we felt anger.
The problem is that these emotions work so quickly & usually subconsciously that we have difficulty perceiving these emotions which hide behind & create our anger.
In such cases
keeping a diary is essential. We can take 10 to 20 minutes every evening before sleeping & write down the major emotional
experiences of the day. We can analyze the programmings or beliefs that are causing these emotions. In this way we will gradually gain clarity. (Details about self-analysis are given The Psychology or Happiness.)
We can see that a great part of effective communication is analyzing ourselves. Without this we can't communicate honestly.
More Effective Communication with Children - Part 4Robert Elias Najemy
Now the child
himself obviously has a problem which isn't allowing him or her to use his or her mental abilities to their full potential.
The problem could have to do w/conflicts within the family, conflicts w/other children or w/teachers at school, disappointments in love, lack of self-confidence, lack of proper nutrition, a disillusionment w/ society & the school system, as well as many other possibilities.
a case, the most effective method of communication is active
listening. Let us look again at some brief guidelines for active listening.
1) Let the other talk w/out interruption. Don't break his or her flow w/your need to project your own ideas. When we interrupt others, we cut off their flow. This flow may bring to the surface the cause
of the problem, which they themselves haven't yet discovered.
2) Look into the other's
eyes & not away. Let your body be facing the person & not sideways. Show interest in what the other is saying &
in this way let him or her know that you're listening actively & carefully & care about what he or she is saying.
3) Don't, in any case, criticize or start giving
advice. It's extremely important not to criticize or disagree or reject during the active listening. At the end of the discussion we may state how we feel. After
the discussion is completed, if we don't agree, we, of course, have the right to state so. But during the active listening don't stop the other's flow w/criticism or rejection.
4) Ask questions which help you to understand more clearly what the other is feeling. These question will help both you & the other (in
this case, the child) to understand what the problem is. You can imagine that you're the other. Imagine how he or she feels & what's going on in his or her
life & you will be guided to the right questions to ask. Asking questions rather than giving advice may be difficult for
some of us in the beginning. It isn't easy, but those who have tried it have found it very effective & have been surprised
by the results.
In some cases where we might be performing this technique mechanically,
the others may be surprised & react negatively, especially if they've learned to receive continual criticism. But if we persist to show interest & stop criticizing,
at some point the child will open up. We must also be sensitive about the correct time & place to approach the other. Also a child must never be pushed against his will into discussing
something which he or she doesn't want to. Eventually the need to come close to us will help him or her to open to us.
5) We may also affirm whether or not what we have understood from the other's communication is correct. This technique is used by most psychologists
to help a person open up & get clarity about what he or she is feeling.
We simply repeat
back to our children what they're telling us in our own words. This helps us to verify that we have understood what they're saying & helps them to feel that we're accepting what they're saying. If they feel that we haven't understood, they'll try to explain to us in a different way. This will help all to become clearer about what's bothering each.
These techniques for effective communication can do much to
bring harmony & love to our relationships w/our children. It's important that parents get started w/this system immediately. No child is too young
to understand this type of communication.
Because these techniques
require a whole new way of thinking & communicating, we suggest that parents & teachers
or any individuals who want to master them, seek out seminars which teach these methods w/practical workshops.
Remember that the basis for all successful communication is love. Below you'll find various examples of effective communication for various situations with
More Effective Communication with Children - Part 5Robert Elias Najemy
A Child Wants To go To The Movies
A child keeps
pleading to be taken to a movie, but hasn't cleaned up his room for several days, a job, which he agreed to do.
What might be an average type of communication? An average parent
may call the child lazy, irresponsible & inconsiderate.
An I - message in this case might be something like this:
"My child, sit down. I'd like to express to you how I feel at this moment. There's
conflict within me: on the one hand, I love you & want you to be happy. I want you to be able to enjoy that which makes you happy. I'd like to take you to the movies, so that you might enjoy yourself.
On the other
hand, I feel cheated & that an injustice has been done, because we've made an agreement
that you'd clean your room & you haven't kept it. That makes me feel that you're not respecting our agreement & my need for your room to be clean.
"I also have another need, which is to feel that I'm bringing you up in the proper way. When I see that you're not taking your word & your responsibilities seriously, I have doubts as to whether I'm doing a good job & whether you'll be able to function well in society, if you're not keeping your word.
So I can't bring myself to take you to the movies until you keep your word & clean up your room".
The parent may then lead into active listening w/something like, "How do you
feel what I have just said to you? Does it seem fair? Do you feel hurt? Would you like to talk about it?"
Also, the parent may take this opportunity to
discuss w/the child the factors that have prevented him from cleaning up his room.
the fact that you haven't cleaned up your room, I get the idea that you don't like to do that job. Is there some special reason
for that? Do you feel that it's unfair that I ask you to do that? What do you think would be a fair way to handle this situation? Have you some suggestions as to how we can overcome this source of tension between us?"
I can hear some parents who are reading this saying to themselves,
"My child will never understand these explanations". My personal experience is that any child over 2 years old can understand the intent behind this communication & will feel the parent's respect, love & concern thru it & will feel the same for the parent.
The Blaring Stereo
A child is playing her CD's so loud that the parents in the next room can't communicate w/one another.
An angry parent may likely say, "Can't
you be more considerate of others? Are you deaf? Why do you play that so loud?"
we talk that way to our neighbors if they were playing the music that loud? Would we talk that way to our colleague, our boss
or our friends? Do we have the right to speak demeaningly to our children just because we think they belong to us? Imagine
how you'd politely communicate w/a neighbor who was playing music loudly (especially if he is physically bigger than you are).
the key to effective communication is that we neither suppress ourselves nor the others.
We respect both our needs & those of the others. So, we aren't going to put up w/the music, but neither are we going to hurt the other's feelings.
An example in this case might be as follows:
could you please turn down the music for a moment? I'd like to tell you something which is very important to me. I have conflicting needs. My need for you is to be happy & not to feel suppressed. I also don't want to be in a state of conflict w/you because when I am, I don't feel at all well & neither do you.
other hand, I can't tolerate the high volume which you were just playing your music. Your father & I are trying to talk
in the next room & we can't hear each other because of the music.
"I also have
the need not to bother the neighbors, just as I wouldn't like them to bother us. I'd like to keep up good relationships w/them. I'm
afraid that the loud music may be bothering them. For that reason I ask you to please cooperate on this matter & play the music
at a lower volume or perhaps you could wear headphones & enjoy the music at the volume you prefer, while we have peace".
Then the parent might want to lead into active listening
as to how the child feels about that message. "How do you feel about what I ım asking you to do? Do you feel suppressed or
unhappy? I hope we can find a way for both of us to be happy. Tell me your feelings".
This method of communication is much more likely
to encourage willful cooperation from the child, while respect between parent & child is mutually maintained.
Although we feel great love for our children, we're often unable to communicate that love, because of a lack in communication skills. We mean well; but our own problems & fears get in our way & disrupt our communication w/our children.
Robert Elias Najemy
A Note From the Teacher
A 12 year-old is sent home
by a teacher with a note stating that he was speaking loudly, using "filthy" language. What might be the parents' reaction?
One might be, "Come here & explain to me why you want to embarrass your parents with your filthy mouth."
Another would be to simply
punish the child with no discussion.
Another might be to degrade the child's image of himself by criticizing him for his various mistakes & faults in general.
All of these express to some extent the feelings that we may have. But they're not effective communication, because they don't express all
our feelings & serve only to make the child feel badly, without offering any opportunity for understanding what the childıs problem is in reality.
Obviously, the child has some need to speak in that way. He may have some problem or a need for attention or recognition. When we focus only on our own embarrassment & fear & ignore what might be going on in the child at this time, we lose contact w/the child.
child knows he has made a mistake, but he's unable to deal with the forces, which cause him to act in this way. His way of
speaking at school was either an outlet for some inner tension or resentment or an attempt for attention or recognition. We'd do better to discuss our feelings about the situation with the child & try to help the child to open up so that we may discover what's going on in the childıs mind.
A possible communication might be something like this:
I have a strong need to talk about this note with you. I'm very concerned both for you & me. I'm shocked & surprised & I must admit a bit embarrassed in the eyes of others.
But these are my problems.
What concerns me most is that I also feel that maybe I've made some mistake in my attitude towards you. I feel somehow responsible for your behavior since I'm your parent & I wonder
if I'm doing a good job or not in bringing you up the way I do. I'd like to try to understand.
"Please explain to me the events which happened at school & what was that
made you feel the need to speak loudly & in that way. I'd also like to know if there's something that I do which has contributed towards your
feeling that you must express yourself in that way. I would also like you to tell me if there is anything that I can do to help you
to feel more comfortable & happier".
The child may or may not open up. He may or may not be able to understand consciously what his problem is. In most cases, with the help of active listening
the child will come to an understanding of what's going on within him.
The Messy House
mother arrives home tired & upset after work & a variety of other chores. Upon entering the house she finds
everything to be in a mess. She had asked the children to keep the house clean because there would be visitors coming over
This type of blaming will simply reinforce in the children's minds the idea that they're as she has described them - "not okay, not responsible & not to be trusted". They'll then continue to be just that way.
A possible communication
might be something like this:
"Children, come & sit down. I want to explain
to you some things which are very important to me. I feel very disillusioned this moment.
On the one hand, I feel
let down. I was counting on your remembering my request that you be careful & keep the house clean & tidy. I'm tired & I'm worried about receiving these guests this evening. It's important for me that the house be clean when they arrive but I'm too tired to do it at this moment.
also doubt whether I'm bringing you up the right way when I see, at times like this, that you don't consider my requests for help &
I understand that when you play it's easy to forget such requests, but I ask you to try harder in the future, because I need your help. Now, I'd be interested in your suggesting some way by which we can avoid this happening in the future".
After a discussion takes place as to how such situations
could be avoided in the future, the mother can ask the children to now please help her by putting the place in order &
cleaning up so that she can relax & get ready for the guests who are coming.
The key to effective communication is to look into ourselves & think about what we're really feeling & express that clearly & openly to the other, without hiding anything & without blaming or intending to hurt the others.
After expressing how we
feel, we express what we need & give the other a chance to express his or her feelings on the subject.
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