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Improving communication with your kids

November 14th, 2008 / 7 Comments

“My kids don’t talk to me.”

You’d think that since we’ve known our kids all their lives and even live with them every single day of their lives, communication would be natural. But those very factors may work against us. Our children may have had too much of us! All we get is a grunt now and then.

Familiarity breeds contempt. It may be that we take our children for granted and do not speak to them with the courtesy  we would show strangers.  Add to that the proverbial generation gap, it is certainly not easy to have good communication with our children.

What then can we do to improve communication with our children? Since we are the adults here, we must be willing to take the first steps, not waiting for our children to come to us.

Here are just 3 simple suggestions of what we can do:

1. Clear the air.

When I notice my children are little aloof, I ask them honestly, “Have I done something that offended you or hurt you in some way?” “Yeah, mom. You ignored me when I asked you to help me with homework the other day.”

Oftentimes, I don’t even realize I’ve hurt them. I was probably just too busy blogging! Without offering any excuses, I apologize. “I’m so sorry. You are right. I wouldn’t like it if you did that to me. Will you forgive me?”

Clear the air once in a while so bitterness and resentment does not build up that would hinder communication.

2. Be there.

When my daughter calls me from college, I drop everything to talk to her! “Oh no, I’m not busy at all. You’re calling at a good time!” Of course, any time is a good time.

I have to accept the fact that my kids are only in the mood to talk to me at their convenience, not mine. But as the parent, I willingly accommodate in order to use those opportunities to build our relationship.

Be there after school, be there late at night, be there when they call.

Don’t be too busy, too preoccupied, or too tired to talk when your kids are ready to talk to you.

3. Affirm often.

The image of the nagging mom in cartoons is not funny anymore. It’s too close to the truth!

Would you want to talk to someone who nags you all the time? Would you want to approach someone who is critical and negative? Would you talk to someone who gives advice without listening?

Be honest. Is the communication not happening because we are not approachable? If you put yourself in our child’s shoes, it may become clear where the communication block is.

Give honest praise and affirmation often.

“I’m proud of you” instead of  “You could’ve done better.”

“I love having you around” instead of “Go clean your room.”

“You look nice today” instead of  “When are you going to get a haircut?”

What other ways can you improve relationship and communication with your kids?

Photo by ThunderChild tim

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  1. Hmnnn… some really good points to consider…. My boys are still young, and are CONSTANTLY talking to me – lol. But instead of silently wishing for some quiet, I think I’ll count my blessings instead. I know the day will come when I will be wishing they talked to me more… 🙂

  2. MammaDawg: Keep nursing that relationship and if you’re lucky, they won’t stop talking!

  3. Great advice, useful with kids and in any relationship, personal or business.
    – As Is it, you feel something is out of place, you are probably right; then ask what it is, right now – key word: ASK.
    – Be present; I am not sure about dropping things at any time, although there may be some cases to do that; but at least, reserve areas of privileged time for your kids, and be present. That is drop your preoccupations, worries, business and just be present with them.
    – Encourage and find something nice to say… there will always be someone to tell them what is wrong.

    I would add one thing: make darn sure that your kids know that no matter what, they will always be welcome, home will always be a safe harbor, there will always be food and shelter and love and no questions asked if need be for them.

  4. […] My “How to” article is there as well – “Improving Communication With Your Kids.” […]

  5. […] about time!” is what we end up saying, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle; without any positive affirmation, the kids will definitely not want to do chores next […]

  6. wow your article is very true.

    I made the mistake of saying to my daughter I was too tired to speak with her one night and I regretted saying that, as she was schooling away from home.

    so the next day I rang her early to apologise, it only happened the once, I never allowed it to happen again. I have 5 children and they ring me at all times, I love the close connection and out conversations are priceless.

    very good article topic well done

  7. Robyn, thanks for sharing. Good for you for keeping the lines of communication open with 5 children.


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