Connection before Correction is the parenting mantra to bring up emotionally stronger and stable children. It is observed that it’s easy to teach a growing child hence the moral policing of a child is most advisable at such an age, but when a child becomes a teenager, he/she has to be encouraged to be a learner rather than just being taught about the appropriate social and moral behaviour.
At times they know more about the surroundings than we do and we must consider their perspectives respectfully. How do we do this??
We start to communicate. That’s the key! Taking a positive interest in their life and talking to them could make them feel that they’re not alone. During this age, they go through a lot of biological, psychological and physiological changes, so providing solutions instead of being completely strict with them could help them to make decisions without any pressure.
You could use some of the following tips to communicate effectively with your child:
1 Avoid Nagging
As a parent, when you feel like you’ve hit a wall in a conversation, set it aside for some time and take a pause. Pause and reflect before attempting to reconnect. Think about how your child will best hear the actual point you’re trying to put across the next time you speak. If you ask your child to put himself in a hypothetical situation, chances are he’ll understand your point faster. Always keep the child and the act separate and do not jump to label them. How you respond to your children will determine they’re coming to you for expressions or suggestions.
2 Listen Up & Try Talking every day
Being an active listener while speaking to your child is an important skill of parenthood. Most importantly, you should allow free expression of their thoughts and emotions. Instead of disapproving or dismissing their emotions, you should listen to them without being judgmental.
You must be sensitive towards their mental health when they look annoyed, short-tempered or anxious all the time.
You must pay complete attention by taking note of their facial expressions, body language, voice tone and intonation. Make a deeper connection by going beyond what you see overtly. As a parent, take advantage of the little moments you have with your child just to talk. It could be while driving them to school or at the breakfast table.
Small talks do make a big difference and can sometimes tell you a lot about what’s going on in the child’s mind. I remember when my children were very young, every day when I picked them up from the bus stop I had trained them to tell me any three things about their day.
Initial years I heard very simple, sometimes funny statements like “I went to poop in the school” or “My teacher hugged me” but I responded with full interest by paraphrasing what they said and not interrogating them for more information. Slowly, this became a habit and till the time they don’t share with me everything that has happened with them (literally like vomiting it out ) they are overwhelmed. It was only because I was listening, I was non-judgmental, I allowed free expression and I was consistent. And today when they have become wonderful adults, they still wait to call us and parents and pour out. So dear parents start by being a listener first if you want to indulge in conversations with your kids.
3 Have A Positive Bearing
Encourage them to touch the sky but always be supportive in case they fail. When they fail, let them know how to deal with it and bounce back! Remember, they wouldn’t always show when they are scared or upset but the fact is that they feel equally guilty about having made a mistake. A cheer up dinner and an insightful family conversation can provide inputs to them to deal with difficulties. You might have observed the childhood albums and narrated your childhood stories to them. It’s very important to tell them that just like them, every child does the same things and goes through hard times. The best way to teach them resilience is to demonstrate it as a parent “BE what you want your child to be” and set an example in all things big or small. Keep in mind your child’s maturity level before sharing any story with them to ensure what they infer from it is in their best interests.
4 Know Where Their Happiness Lies
Let your child follow his/her hobbies and interests as it makes them happier and brighter. The children in today’s time are more enthusiastic about doing what makes them happy. We must ensure that they either do what they love or love what they do. As parents, rather than being prescriptive all the time we should provide ample opportunities for them where they can make decisions and we should stand by them when they experience the consequences of those decisions, whether good or bad.
Let them cherish the little pleasures in life at home, with friends, at school and around them. Teach them gratitude and demonstrate being humane to them. Let them feel for others and not associate happiness with things, people or objects. Encourage them to read books like IKIGAI or discuss such concepts and real-life scenarios with them. Do not live your lives through them rather let them blossom as individuals with their own unique identity and interests and disinterests. Respect their passions and facilitate their growth in those areas.
They might trip at times but if they trust that you will be on their side in any circumstances they will be courageous to explore, experiment and learn. Learning that is a result of experience always stays with us. In the teen years give them space and privacy, let them think, rethink and introspect. From the beginning put into the habit of critically thinking before making decisions as they will be happier if the decisions are their calls and believe me they will be more resilient in dealing with the outcomes or consequences.
When you put an effort into establishing an easy-going relationship with your kids, you’ll notice how the kids start understanding your concerns regarding them as well.
Open and clear communication between the parents and children enhances the possibilities of parents understanding their child’s preferences and the child understanding the parent’s efforts. If they fear or feel confused and they start looking up to you conveniently for solutions or expressing themselves, then this process has already made you your child’s confidant!
It is never too late to build connections and be the closest confidant to your children. Make the first move and make consistent moves with a lot of love, compassion and trust as it is about giving and not about getting when it comes to parenting!
Guest Author: Vinita Berry
Ms Vinita Berry is the Founder of ‘Priceless Parenting with Vinita Berry’ (formerly, Spectrum, a multi-disciplinary clinic for specially-abled learners). Under her expert guidance and missionary leadership, Spectrum has won the prestigious IDA awards for Accessibility & Assistive Solutions in Education, 2013 and Product/Solution/Service of the year in Special Education Needs (SEN), 2019.
Vinita is a trained clinical psychologist, researcher and certified Cognitive Behavior Therapist who has been actively involved with child development for more than two decades.
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