Do you have conversations with your kids?
I don’t mean just talking to them about school or exchanging a few sentences as you’re tucking them in.
I mean real conversations.
Like people used to have in the old days.
Before all these technological devices and distractions divided us.
It’s an important question because it speaks to how we as parents communicate.
Because our children will mirror our communication behaviors all through their adult lives.
And because the art of conversation is fundamental to a child’s future success – in their business and personal relationships.
In this blog, we’re going to explore the 5 ways that you may be preventing your child from having a powerful conversation with you. We’re also going to take a hard look at the 6 ways that you can encourage your kids to open up in a way you never expected them to.
What Happened to the Art of Conversation?
Before the digital age, good conversation with friends and family was how families wiled away the evening hours.
Today, conversation has largely been replaced with endless new channels of amusement.
With tablets and cell phones and headphones that shut everyone out.
We don’t communicate the way we used to.
Instead of calling someone or dropping by to “visit” (which meant “have a long talk” to my mom) we email or we text.
The messages are brief and frequently one-sided.
There’s no real chance for actual conversation.
For a real give-and-take.
Kids are growing up a world where the art of conversation has been all but lost.
But conversational skills are still an absolute necessity for successful adult relationships.
Whether you’re speaking face-to-face or sending a message, people can sense the tone, attention and emotion in the content.
If conversational skills aren’t learned as a child, any form of conversation as an adult, digital or otherwise, will be difficult and/or frequently misunderstood.
It’s an important skill to offer your child.
And how can you give your child the gift of being an excellent communicator?
It’s easy: practice.
Practice talking to your child. Showing them just how great it is to connect with others with real and authentic conversations.
You want both parties engaged. For both parties to listen. And most of all for both parties to share their own ideas while listening to each other’s.
In order to start practicing in your day-to-day life, it’s important to know where you’re going wrong when it comes to communicating with your child.
5 Mistakes that Ensure Your Kids Won’t Start a Conversation with You
1. Shouting or Name-Calling: Shouting at a child says, “I’m not listening to you” and sends the message that losing control in a conversation is okay.
2. Interrupting: No one can have a real conversation with someone who is constantly interrupting. It’s a sign of disrespect that says “your words aren’t important”. Repeatedly interrupting your child might make them stop sharing their thoughts and feelings altogether.
3. Nagging: Repeatedly instructing a child to do something (or not) trains them that they don’t have to remember for themselves.
4. Overtalking: Research suggests our brains can hold only 30 seconds of information in the short-term memory at once. When parents talk incessantly, children learn to “tune out”, resulting in poor listening skills.
5. Extremes: Children of authoritarian parents often don’t develop independent voices. On the other hand, children of permissive parents often lack self-control. Both of these parenting extremes have been shown to inhibit emotional regulation and healthy adult relationships.
So what can you do to ensure that your kids look for and enjoy their talks with you? In most cases, your kids will grow up to communicate in the exact same way you communicate. So show them how to have a real conversation by modeling good communication skills:
6 Tips for Great Conversation with your Child
1. Make Eye Contact: When you’re talking with your child, it’s not the time to multitask. Pay full attention. Ask questions. Answer their questions. Take your time and pay attention.
2. Keep it simple: Keep conversations short and simple so kids don’t get bored, confused or distracted.
3. Be Honest: Don’t pretend to know something if you don’t. Be honest. It’s not that hard to say, “I don’t know”. Admitting you don’t know opens the way for you and your child to discover the answer together.
4. Be Open-minded: You and your child are different people. Accept their ideas and embrace your differences. They’ll more likely to start a conversation if they know they won’t be rejected, ignored or criticized.
5. Be Safe: If a child is fearful, they won’t have an honest conversation with you. They have to know that you won’t ridicule them and that they won’t get in trouble for their ideas. The more you make them feel heard and safe, the more they’ll be able to have conversations about difficult topics.
6. Be confident: If you’re confident in your ideas, whether people agree with you or not, your child will be confident in his or hers.
Making conversation a priority in your family will have a direct effect on your child’s ability to communicate effectively in any setting – in person, email, text, phone or fax.
And it will make his or her life so much richer.
If you are eager to learn more about this and more, check out our breakthrough Parenting Coaching Course here.