I never thought communicating with kids can be an issue. I never thought I would read, learn or write about how to talk to children. It is almost like teaching how to breathe or eat! (Now a days, there are a lot of books on those too!). I thought that the fact that every parent wants to rear their child in the best possible way, that all parents love their child as much as they can, is enough to have a loving, caring and nurturing relationship. So, It was with a lot of skepticism and doubt that I started reading “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I changed my opinion soon after starting the book. After going through more material on the same subject, and looking around with new knowledge in me, I have understood that our age old parenting skills (that we inherited from our parents, and they from theirs..!) are simply not appropriate for the new-age parenting. The era today demands parents to be more of ‘friends’ than ‘parents’ and proper communicating techniques can help us achieve that friendship with our kin.
So, should we think about how, what and when should we talk to our kids? You would answer ‘Yes’ if you would listen to yourself yelling, shouting, repeating, judging and scolding your child on a typical day. Sometimes the old way of parenting does so much damage to the relationship that all lines of communication break between a parent and a child. It is especially painful, when you consider that no other relationship can be as genuinely full of love as a parent-child relationship can be. I once met a pre-teen girl, who was so angry with her mom, she would turn a deaf ear every time her mother spoke. She was convinced that her mother actually hated her. The mother, on the other hand, was so proud of this girl, and always wanted to spend more time with her. This kind of misunderstanding builds up slowly, over a long period of time, and is fed mostly by a parent’s damaging conversations with kids.
Knowingly or unknowingly , we all eventually become a little bit like our own parents. We carry the old methods they used with us, and we use the same ways on our kids. The changes that have come with the new-age information are few and awkward. For example, most educated parents now don’t spank their children, at least not as freely and often as their own parents did. The spanking has however, been replaced by time-outs, and derogatory and damaging scolding, which does nothing to address the root cause of an undesirable behavior. The parent-child relationship is becoming more friendly and open day by day, and is a great positive change. If we start seeing our children as friends for life, we would never dare say most of the things that we say to them today. Take a few examples: Monologues that would send any friend to sleep, Accusations that would break the strongest of friendships, and expectations that are too unreal to be met in the real world. Yet, we do it all with our kids, still secretly considering them as dependent , small babies, maybe hoping that our support(?) will make them attached to us for a little longer!
How to go about this makeover, to ensure that a healthy relationship grows between you and your children ? Well, to start with, make an honest assessment of yourself and your partner as parents, from the child’s view. Think about what kind of a family environment are you providing your young ones to grow in? Then, answer a key question : what is the aim of your parenting ? What results do you want from the time and effort you put in this relationship? In general, the aim of parenting is to develop the kids into self-sufficient adults who can foray into the world with a rare confidence that good parenting brings.
I would not go into details of how to improve your relationship with your child here. But, if you have the problem singled out , and are ready to work on it, then half the battle is already won for sure. Have no doubt, your kid loves you and respects you, but as always, he also need you to show him how to go about building a perfect mature parent-child relationship.