4 Ways to Start Building Good Communication With Your Children
This is the world we live in, but don't lose hope.
It is a reality, in this day and age, that negative influences run rampant on television and social media. These are even more accessable to young impressionable children today. The fault in this is not just in the negative influences out side the child's life, but also, in the mindset molded by their parents, older siblings, and other influential figures, in their daily life. Being the older sibling of four, this is really hard to ignore. I've had to actually take a moment to make sense of all the madness so that I could help my siblings understand. These are a few essential ways to start to build this understanding through communication with your children so they can better choose the route they want to take in life as they grow older.
1. Be open with your children
One thing that I have learned from helping my parents raise my younger sister and my twin, special needs-brothers, is that you should not try to hide any problems or family issues from them in an attempt to try to protect them. Children can sense the slightest emotion and, if left in the dark, can think that it's an problem that they, themselves, caused. When you are open with situations and issues by helping your child to understand, even on the simplest level, you are empowering them, reaffirming that they are an important part of the family, and showing them that you recognize that truth. It also makes the entire family unit strong and better prepared to get through the tough times life can throw at everyone.
2. Take time to talk to them about things in life and your own expiriences.
There is always a time and place for different subject matters. The heavier topics can obviously wait until a child is more mature, but that doesn't mean you miss out on those opportunities to answer the questions every young one has. When I was younger, I always asking questions about different things. Some, I was told to wait on knowing and understanding, while others gave me a long talk with my parents so that I could grasp fundamentals like why it is important speak what you feel, to love yourself, and be kind to others. These are such seemingly simple ideas to an adult that seem to be implied with living. However, when paved for someone in their childhood early on, it plants a seed that helps one grow into a strong kind and caring person because of the time and effort it took to positively put it there.
3. Always take a moment to help them understand "why?".
The entire childhood experience has growing pains that also reside in learning the ways of life and what is good and bad, right and wrong, and, lastly, benevolent and malevolent. However, explaining a 'why' to a child can make it so these growing pains are surpassed in a learning way, than a way later reflected upon with scorn.
As the oldest, I learned everything first. When ever I got in trouble as a young child, all I wanted to know was "why?" Why is it bad to take a toy? Why is it bad to hit? Why is it bad to take a cookie before dinner? Of course as I grew older, the need to know "why?" got a lot more in-depth. So, communication always being open with my parents, I learned why and even more so, understood. A child should not be expected to grasp the deeper things in life unless they are helped to grasp them in the first place.
This truth was deeply felt as I got older and was a trying to help my brothers understand things like why two wrongs don't make a right. This was an interesting process, because it challenged me to actually put into words what I understood and then explain it to my brothers, who, because of their disability, had a hard time understanding other people's wrong doings. We literally had to have a little sit down, and the anger that was there on my part, turned into that of a sibling teaching her younger brothers a bit about life. This discussion was intense and challenging, but by far more fulfilling for the three of us.
4.Listen to them.
The constant stereotype that adults never listen to children is one that needs to be broken, because that harbors a dysfunctional means of communication. The only way to build an understanding is to realise as a parent, sibling, or teacher that listening is a two way street when taking to a young child, pre-teen, to a full blown teenager. Being as impressionable as children are, they are going to mimic what you do. If you expect them to listen and not be heard, communication is already doomed to fail, because that is teaching an unhealthy way to communicate. Having stubborn younger siblings made me realize real quick that in order for them to understand me, I had to swallow my pride to be able to learn and understand what they were going through. Otherwise, the bickering would escalate to the point where we all were in trouble.
So, if you really think about it...
It is never a one way street when talking with children. The child isn't the only one learning, that is only the start. As you continue on, you learn as well and it molds you into becoming better at talking with people, and helping them understand your views as you understand theirs. This makes for a healthy conflict resolution in this vast world where everyone is yearning to be heard. Being able to build an understanding in others makes for more unifying relationships to be had, as well as an effective way to make a meaningful and positive impact in someone's life. All it takes is a genuine effort to actually try.