Children have unique perspectives. Learning to communicate with your child can help in everything from teaching toddlers important skills to understanding behavioral issues.
Starting a dialog is far easier when your little one is comfortable and has trust that their smaller voices will be understood. Solutions through family therapy are available to help bridge the gap between their ways of thinking and yours. With a little guidance, patience, and understanding, these 10 strategies can help promote a deeper relationship between you and your child.
1. Put down the phone
The influence of modern-day technology has not exactly helped build interpersonal relationships. If you are constantly glued to your phone, then it is hard for anyone to feel like they are your primary focus of attention.
To help make your child feel important, put down that phone, laptop, or other electronic device, and focus on what they have to say.
2. Schedule time to talk
Hectic days can often pull us away from the people and situations that need our attention the most. If you find yourself struggling to connect with your kids, then try scheduling regular outings or personal time devoted solely to talking, listening, and interacting.
Not only will this build consistency, but it will also let your little ones know that they are just as important as that work meeting or the latest network sitcom.
3. Ask questions
Your child’s unique perspective can lead to misunderstandings with adults who will use different terms or expressions to get their message across. To engage with your child and to uncover what is on their mind, try to ask questions to help flush out fine details or build understanding.
Asking a child to tell you a little more is encouraging and shows that you are interested and engaged.
4. Offer resolutions
We all know how frustrating and unproductive it feels to be faced with the same problems repeatedly. This impression of there being no relief has an even greater impact on children who often lack sophisticated foresight or problem-solving skills.
In order to help children as they begin opening up, try to offer solutions to their dilemma. Remember that context counts. Maintaining small, actionable steps is important when dealing with kids.
5. Know when to just listen
Parents weighing counseling options often ask about family therapy. Perhaps one of the most universal skills you will learn when dealing with a professional in the field is the ability to just listen. This may seem easy, but listening is more than simply taking in a person’s words.
Actively listening, processing, and applying what your children are saying can help eliminate misunderstands and is a foundational skill to learn in any relationship.
6. Body language counts
It is well known in family therapy and counseling that nonverbal communication is just as important as the spoken word in a conversation. Learning to pay attention to your child’s body language is fundamental in helping them feel supported and understood.
Traits such as eye contact, relaxed or tense shoulders, and hand movement or grasping can all give clues about your child’s comfort with a given topic or their current emotional state.
7. Be a confidant
Few things are as important to a child or young adult as trusting that their secrets will be kept safe. The quickest way to cut off lines of communication with your child is by telling others your child’s secrets. Be cautious of seemingly innocent slips, such as teasing your child about their recent crush in front of friends or the love interest themselves.
Remember that your child views you as a friend as well as a parent, so act in a way that respects their privacy and honors the trust they have placed in you.
8. Promote individuality
If you have more than one child, then there is often a tendency for the older or more confidant sibling to try to communicate on behalf of their brother or sister. If you remember the telephone game you played as a child, then you know that a message can often get convoluted the more ears and mouths are involved.
Try to make time with each child individually to hear their concerns to help build your individual relationship and develop their independence in the family.
9. Practice positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement is the idea of rewarding or praising your child when they engage in desirable behavior. If your child opens up or approaches you for advice or practices other strong communication skills, then praise and reward them for the effort.
If your child approaches you to chat, then the best practice is to drop everything and listen and thank them for their openness.
10. Enlist expert help
Last but not least, it is important to understand when you do not have all the tools to communicate effectively with your child. This is where family therapy can help.
Arkansas Relationship Counseling Center offers numerous types of family therapy, all tailored to meet the needs of your individual family dynamic. Expert counselors can help coach parents in methods to help children open up. A joint family therapy session can also be useful for injecting a neutral third party and helping overcome communication barriers.
For more information
Make an effort to improve the communication between you and your child. If you want more information, then contact Arkansas Relationship Counseling for an initial consultation.