I believe the most important step for parents to take is to understand what they are saying that is shutting down their children from talking.The reason I say this is because understanding what not to say and then what to say instead, has made the biggest impact in my ability to create loving relationships in my life. These are not only with my daughter; they are also with my husband and friends.
Every parent I talk with that is having a hard time getting through to their kids come to realize that they are responding in ways that feels hurtful to their kids. Here are five communication blocks that are often overlooked. Yelling, threatening, and shaming are always blocks. Check out other blocks on listening to see how to respond instead to keep the conversation open.
Step 1: Stop Blocking
A communication block is any remark or attitude on the part of the listener that injures the speaker’s self-esteem enough to break communication.
Communication blocks include: commanding, giving advice, placating, interrogating, distracting, psychologizing, sarcasm, moralizing, being a know-it-all, me-tooism, yelling.
Communication Blocks Practice: Alternate role playing the adult and the child. Feel and describe the emotional impact of each adult response. ü which ones you tend to do.?
Child: “I hate math homework. My teacher gives way too much.”
Adult: “You should do some when you first get home then you won’t have a problem.”
The underlying message that feels hurtful: “I know more about you than you do.”
Child: “I don’t like my stupid teacher. She’s mean to me.”
Adult: “What did you do to make him yell? You must have done something wrong.”
The underlying message that feels hurtful: “You must have messed up somewhere.”
Child: “I just can’t do this. It’s too hard.”
Adult: “Stop complaining. I know you can do it.”
The underlying message that feels hurtful: “You don’t have the right to decide how to handle your own problems.”
Child: “My best friend can’t come to my party. He’s no friend of mine.”
Adult: “Honey, it will be okay. You’ll have fun with all your other friends.”
The underlying message that feels hurtful: “You don’t have a right to your feelings; you can’t handle discomfort (and neither can I).”
Child: “I don’t understand why friends just turn on me. What did I do?”
Adult: “I had that happen to me when I was your age and I felt horrible.”
The underlying message that feels hurtful: “It’s more important, (or I’m more comfortable), for me to talk about myself rather than you right now.” (Barbara Whiteside’s block. www.whitesideworkshops com)
Which ones do you do?
©2013 Cynthia Klein, Bridges 2 Understanding, has been a Certified Parent Educator since 1994. She works with parents and organizations who want more cooperation, mutual respect and understanding between adults and children of all ages. Cynthia presents her expertise through speaking, webinars, and private parent coaching sessions. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and writes the Middle School Mom column for the Parenting on the Peninsula magazine. Contact Cynthia at bridges2understa.wpstagecoach.com, cynthia@bridges2understanding,com, or 650. 341.0779 to learn more about creating the relationship you want with children from ages 4 – 24.