Why is Effective Communication important? It’s because so many problems in families stem from children or parents feeling like they’re not being listened to or their not being understood. When someone doesn’t feel like they’re being heard or listened to, they are less likely to express their feelings and opinions. They’re more likely to become frustrated or angry, escalating the situation.
While anybody can improve their communication skills, it will take work. It’s not something that will improve overnight as you and your family will have to relearn how you talk with each other. If your family has a pattern of not talking over problems or only having conversations that involve yelling, it will take a while for new habits to begin. We beg you to keep at it as eventually, you will find success.
The best way to teach this new skill is through activities to improve communication. Games and activities are great teaching methods as they make learning new skills fun. Games and activities remove stress and allow the child can grasp the skill without feeling attacked. At Smarter Parenting, you will find many games and activities that will help families learn the art of communication. Frequently older children will resist learning new skills, but communication skills for teens are essential. Older children often encounter challenging situations, and being able to articulate feelings and thoughts will be helpful.
There are a few things that families do that sabotage their communication.
First, they try to communicate when feelings are running high. If you’re angry or frustrated, you’re not communicating, and children are less likely to engage in healthy communication in the future. It is ok to take a break and continue the conversation when you and your child are calm.
Second, they don’t get the child’s attention. If a child, or spouse, doesn’t know we are talking to them, how can we have a meaningful conversation? Too often, parents will ask their child to do something and get frustrated when the child doesn’t do it because they never heard it. Make sure you get your child’s attention. You can do this by getting at their eye level, removing distractions like phones and TV, have them acknowledge they heard you.
Third, they don’t seek to understand what their child is saying. Most of us don’t always say what we mean the first time. We may lack the words to express how we feel or are unsure how we feel. Often children need prompting and clarification to be able to express their viewpoint. If you don’t understand what your child is saying, ask them for clarification until you do. Understanding what they are saying may require you to prompt them to use different words.
Fourth, they don’t reflect back. Feeling that we’re being listened to goes a long way. The best way to do this is by reflecting back. When you use the words your child is using, it signals that you are invested in what they are saying, and what they are saying matters to you, allowing a child to feel safe and secure.
How to get your child to listen is possible when you follow the steps of Effective Communication. When you improve your communication, you will also strengthen your relationships and your family. For more information on the skill of Effective Communication, visit SmarterParenting.com