Communication has been on my mind for the past few days. I’ve been thinking about how I want to communicate with my sons. My oldest is getting to an age where we will need to be having more life lesson talks with him. I have always been open to all of his questions. I have tried to make sure he knows that I am a safe person to talk to. As he grows, I intend to keep our communication open and honest. Here are 6 things I do to ensure that we have good talks, and continue to do so.
1. Talk Undistracted
Put away the devices, turn off the T.V., make sure the other kids are not going to disturb you. Some of the best talks I have with my kids are when we are just one-on-one in the car. Another good time to chat is while I’m tucking them into bed. It gives us a nice quiet time to mull things over. But sometimes, I just pull my son aside to the table and we sit and have a chat together. When you give your child your undivided, undistracted attention, they feel heard.
2. Listen, Really Listen
Communication is not just about getting your point or information across. It is about listening to someone and learning from them as well. If your talk is coming from an angry place, you need to still be able to hear what your child has to say. You may not agree, but you can get a better idea of their thought process by listening. If your child comes to you with a problem, hear them. Don’t just dismiss them because you think it’s an easy problem. And don’t just try to come up with a quick fix to the situation. Listen to their words and feelings about how they interpret the situation.
3. Use C.P.R.
With every talk you have with your children, you should always be Compassionate, Patient, and Respectful. You may know how to handle a problem your kid is having, but this may be their first encounter. Help your child navigate an issue while being empathetic to their feelings. Patience comes into play as you help them try to figure out what the right thing to do is. They are just learning to think for themselves, so don’t rush them. And, finally, respect their choice on a matter. To learn more about the C.P.R. Philosophy, and how to impiment it in your daily life, check out my book!
4. Be Honest
Tough questions will come from your kids sometimes, and it is always best to answer honestly. Being honest not only gives your child correct information, but it also builds your credibility. You don’t want to tell your kids a bunch of bs, and then have them find out. When my oldest was 5 he asked how babies were made. I told him that mommies and daddies have special cells, and when those cells are mixed together, they start to grow into a baby. He’s quite a little Scientist, so this was satisfactory to him. I was honest while still being age-appropriate. I’ve also been asked about death, the environment, extinction, electricity, and so much more. And each time, I have tried to answer as honestly as I could. Sometimes that means saying, “I don’t know.” When that happens, we usually bring Google into our conversation.
5. Ask What They Know and Think
When you begin a conversation with your child, ask how they feel about the situation. Ask what they already know about the topic. This will give you an insight as to how to guide the conversation.
6. Be Open
One-on-one talks with your kids are no place for judging, shaming, ridiculing, or punishing. Yes, there will be some times when you need to discipline your child, but I’m not talking about those talks. When your child knows that you are open to talk about any topic, they feel safe. When they feel safe, they will be more likely to come to you in the future. I like to start and end my talks with my sons by reminding them that they can talk to me, or their father, about anything. We are always available to talk. If I initiated the conversation because of a discipline issue, I make sure that I am calm and collected before we talk. The discipline part is over, now we talk it out and learn a lesson.
In no way am I perfect. I’m sure I will mess things up at one point or another. And I’m sure that as my sons grow into teens they will become distant. However, I believe that if I lay the foundation of good, honest and open conversation now, they will be able to come to me with the big stuff later.