There is so much going on in our busy lives that really connecting with our children can be a challenge. Between the preoccupation with life in general and the electronic stimulation, it can be difficult. But, we need to — every day.
Here are some tips on really talking to our children and getting through:
- Disconnect. Get off the phone. Turn off the TV. Remove the earbuds. Ask the same of your child. If you want to 100 percent connect, you must be 100 percent disconnected from outside stimulation and so should your child.
- Physically get on your child's level. If your children are little, either stoop down to their level or lift them up to yours. They are not soldiers or subordinates that you have to dominate. Your posture should be comfortable and on their level.
- Make eye contact. So important. Look your child in the eye. By doing so, you are silently telling her that you care enough and are sure of your message. If you are giving her an answer, the direct eye contact adds conviction to your decision. Making eye contact makes you more genuine.
- Add touch. Touch adds love to any conversation. Put your hands on your child's shoulders. Hold him in your arms. Cradle his face in your hands. All of these add love, concern, and compassion to anything you have to say.
- Add time to listen. Once you have your say, you need to make sure to add some time for questions or discussion. “Do you have any questions?” “Do you understand?” “Is there anything you'd like to talk about?”
- Speak as you would to an adult. Throw the baby talk out the window, along with overly simplified words and trite phrases. You should speak to your children in words you would use with an adult and expose them to greater vocabulary. You should always make certain to explain or ask if they understand what your words mean, but never dumb down to them. This shows them that you believe them to be intelligent beings fully capable of hearing and understanding what you have to say.
- Make it private. Important discussions should not take place in a crowd or in front of others that might belittle or tease. By making it more intimate, even one-on-one, you are showing your child that he is worth your investment and alone time. You don't have to try to handle 12 things and people at once. He is worth more than the things you're juggling and squeezing in.
- Keep it cool. Do your best to keep things on an even keel. Should your child get a little out of control, calmly say, “When you're ready to discuss this, come and get me. I will drop what I'm doing and we will continue. Until then, please find a quiet place and collect yourself.”
- No third person. Never refer to yourself by your role. “Mommy is very upset with you right now.” Instead of third person, which dehumanizes and disconnects you, refer to yourself as another human being with feelings and thoughts and not by your title. “I'm not very pleased with your behavior right now.”
- Be honest about your feelings. There is no need to sugar coat things or play them down. If you are disappointed, let your child know. If you are angry, tell her in a calm and rational way. But, if you are pleased and delighted and proud, you should share that with her as well. You can play up the good things she does. Start out a serious conversation with something positive before you get down to the nitty-gritty.
Remember that you are speaking one human being to another, no matter how monstrous or alien your child behaves. Your time is so brief to teach your children to communicate effectively and it starts with how you speak to them. One of the best feelings in the world is listening to little ones mirror your rational behavior and speech in dealing with their stuffed animals, friends or siblings.
Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom. Visit
Becky Lyn’s Website. or write her at firstname.lastname@example.org