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Communication with a preteen kid is no joke. Only parents of preteen kids know that. However, what they don’t know is, while it is not an easy task, communication with their children can be made effective by following a few simple tips.
Most parents find talking to kids difficult. They feel that their child do not listen to them. They blame their age and hormones. But they fail to see the real problem. The main problem is that parents are not able to convey the message correctly to the kids. Due to this, many communications between parents and children fail.
You need to ensure, that your communication with your child is age-appropriate, to make it effective. A child is still learning to express his emotions. His emotional vocabulary might not be, as well developed as yours. Also, children are more talkative when they are young. As they get older, due to the increasing pressure from family, school, and not their raging hormones, that they tend to drift away from parents and reduce talking. For this reason, talking to a toddler is different from talking to a preteen. A toddler might need more encouragement, whereas a preteen might need more space.
Some Simple Do’s and Don’ts To Help You Along This Path
- Always, pick up even the slightest signs or comments, that suggest your kid wants to talk. He might be hesitant to broach the subject. Nudge him into opening up with a few words of encouragement.
- Don’t ask “why” questions directly. This forces a child to rationalise his behaviour, which is not easy and will prompt him to shut up. This makes conversation an awkward experience for the kid. Make a softer approach. Ask questions which require objective answers first, like “Did you have your science class today?”, or “Who did you play with in the recess?”
- Make sure you speak to your child every day. Making a habit of talking is the sure-fire way to maintaining that dialogue and openness over the years. This will also help you gauge your child’s behaviour and recognise the triggers for his various emotions. With time, you will be able to correctly guess with just a word.
- Don’t jump in with solutions to their problems. Parents are often over-protective. Although, this is a good trait, letting the kids figure out the solutions themselves will teach them to be more independent and confident of their capabilities. Also, parents might not be aware of the entire situation and might end up forcing a solution, which will only worsen it. Come up with solutions only when specifically asked by your kid.
- Do take some time out to have a real conversation within your routine. Whether it is while driving your kid to and from school or while helping him/her with homework, create opportunities for your child to open up about their thoughts. When your child is relaxed, you can ask questions about his day which can eventually lead to other topics.
- Don’t respond negatively when your child says something hurtful or does not answer at all. Not only adults, but even children have to face stress every day, whether at school or on the playground. When your kid answers back or shows contempt or derision, do not respond angrily. Try to understand that something might have happened which made the child react this way. Don’t stay quiet either, let your child know that his words have hurt you.
- Do stay emotionally available to talk at all times. Whether, you are involved in the house chores, or have just returned from a gruelling day at the office, if your child takes the initiative to talk, always respond positively. What the child has to say might be important. Don’t waste these opportunities.
- Don’t talk, listen. This might be the best piece of advice for parents. As adults, we think we know better. But when kids speak, they are searching for and discovering newer ways to say things and express their emotions. Let the kid finish his story and then put up questions. If he wants to talk to you, it doesn’t always mean that he has a problem. Remember, if you allow him to talk, the child will feel comfortable talking to you in the future, knowing that you will listen without interrupting.
These are simple pieces of advice, which are not only easy to follow, but can also work wonders to get kids to open up and talk to you.