Communicate with your child
Posted: June 22, 2010
Last Updated: June 22, 2010
Parents trying to open the lines of communication with their children can be faced with one-word replies, but it’s important to your child not to let that one word stand. A simple reply from your child of “good,” “boring” or “nothing” can’t encapsulate the experiences of an entire day. Parents need to draw their children into open communication and not leave their attempt with a one word reply.
Parent and child communication is very important in the formative years. A Nickelodeon “Talking with Kids” survey found sixty percent of 8-11 year olds and 56 percent of 12-15 year olds say they learn “a lot” from their mothers about issues like sex, alcohol, drugs and violence. Most youth turn to their parents before their teachers, classes, the media, and friends. Its imperative for parents to keep those lines of communication open so kids can ask about the aforementioned serious issues.
Here are some suggestions for breaching the one-word reply barrier.
· Ask about lunch. Lunchtime is where most children socialize with friends and tend to experience social problems as well, like bullying. A simple question about what they had for lunch can spark an entire conversation about the food and the friends they shared it with.
· Each day talk to your child about what happened in class. Ask questions about what your child has to say and/or give positive feedback about his or her experiences.
· Open up yourself. Sometimes children don’t know what you expect them to discuss with you. Try recounting some of the experiences in your day and how they made you feel. This allows children to realize everyone, including mom and dad, experiences challenges, failures and successes in life.
· Attend school functions and stay involved in your child’s education. Children whose parents are more involved with their education have higher achievement, are better adjusted and are less likely to drop out of school. Also, teachers will have insights into your children’s behavior and social life outside the home. Don’t be afraid to ask how your child’s behavior is doing when out of your sight.
· Don’t shy away from uncomfortable questions. Most parents put the breaks on uncomfortable or controversial conversations with children about sex, alcohol, drugs and violence. Try to be supportive, listen to their questions seriously and discuss what you expect as a parent, instead of resorting to silence or outrage. If you are uncertain how to respond simply say, “I need to think about how to answer that,” and consult with an expert like a counselor, doctor, school official, or clergy. No one has all the answers. As a parent you might need help or information to find the right answer for your child’s question.
It can take time and effort to keep the lines of communication open with your child, but in the long run the time you spend conversing with your child now will help them be more successful and happy as they reach adulthood. And most importantly confront the challenges of life knowing they have a parent willing to listen to their problems and support them with love and understanding.
To learn more about opening the lines of communication between your child and you call Border Area Mental Health Services. To reach Border Area Mental Health Services in Grant and Hidalgo Counties, call 388-4412; in Catron County, call 533-6649 for referral; in Luna County, call 546-2174. For CRISIS, call 538-3488 or outside Silver City, call 1-800-426-0997.