Communication is a vital skill that humans have developed since the beginning of time. It influences how we interact with each other and how we shape our history and culture. As parents, communication is also essential for creating healthy and supportive relationships with our children. When we communicate well with our children, we help them feel secure, confident, and cooperative. We also reduce the risk of them developing mental health issues related to poor parental bonding. In this article, we will share some communication tips that every parent/guardian can apply to enhance their communication skills.
For parents/guardians to develop a strong relationship with their children, they must communicate with them regularly. Frequent communication allows a parent/guardian to know the needs of their children. Try communicating with your children during any of these moments: during eating time, in the car, through phone calls/text messages, or at bedtime.
Practice Active Listening
Active listening refers to the practice of giving one’s full attention to a speaker to provide appropriate feedback and display attentiveness.
When a child feels listened to, they are better able to:
- Talk about their emotions;
- Explain the reason for their emotions;
- and understand any guidance provided to them based on what they disclosed.
Use “I” messages
I-messages are statements that reflect what a person is thinking or feeling at a particular moment. These statements are more likely to be perceived as non-threatening and non-judgmental. I-messages stand in contrast to You-messages, which often put down and blame children.
For example, a parent/guardian may say to a child; “You did a bad job on your homework.” This statement may quickly incite feelings of defensiveness and may cause a non-productive conversation to ensue.
However, by turning this statement into an I-message, the parent can express their wants without directly blaming their child; “I think you could have put more effort into your homework.”
As a result, the parent is more likely to begin a conversation that may lead to positive encouragement and cooperation.
If you are struggling with parenting and want to seek support, you can contact any of the following:
- Ministry of Social Development and Family Services Hotline: 800-1MSD
- The National Family Services Division: 794-7483 or 784-5538
- Families in Action: 628-6333
If you believe that your child may be experiencing psychosocial issues, contact any of the following for support:
- ChildLine: 800-4321 or 131
- Children’s Authority: 800-2014 or 996