The Art Of Communication Between Parent & Child
Updated: Mar 26
Good communication is the cornerstone of a healthy relationship with your child, gives her a positive view of herself and serves as her foundation and model for good relationships throughout her life. When you truly listen to your child, you communicate to her that she is understood, valued and accepted for who she is. If your child feels listened to and respected, she in turn will listen to and respect you, and internalize your values.
In my experience, typical struggles in parent/child communication have little to do with lack of love or good intentions, but rather have to do with poor habits or lack of skills. Over time, your communication habits set the stage for a healthy relationship with your child or for conflicts. Children are sensitive to your reactions to them and will mirror them back to you! If you notice that your child gets frustrated or defensive with you when you talk, then it is likely that you are engaging in bad habits and need to develop better communication skills.
Whether you are experiencing conflicts when you talk with your child or just feel you don’t connect, you can turn your relationship around by having the right attitude, following some simple strategies, and being persistent. The number one attitude leading to good communication is to be interested in “listening”, rather than thinking about your response. Let go of your need to say anything, and instead focus on hearing and reflecting back exactly what your child is telling you.
Next, lay the groundwork for good communication patterns by increasing your number of positive interactions with your child. Your child wants your undivided attention more than anything else. Look for ways to reconnect daily. Make use of those brief moments when you have the chance to have a simple conversation with your child about her day or her thoughts or feelings. These above practices strengthen the trust and bond between you and your child, and will help you when the inevitable issue pops up. The key to reducing conflicts in communication is to focus on staying calm and giving your child the benefit of the doubt. Assume she had the best intentions no matter the outcome of the situation. If you are starting to react, pause, and breathe deeply to slow yourself down. Remember to take the time to listen and understand first, before you jump in and respond.
By following these simple guidelines, you will quickly be on your way to a stronger, better relationship with your child. So don’t wait another day, few things are as powerful in transforming your relationship with your child as learning to listen with an open heart and mind.
Originally published in The Healthy Planet, September 2011.