Communication is the most important tool in any relationship. It can be through the use of the word, or nonverbal, but the purpose is to send the message across, in whatever form, so that the person knows, or rather understands what you want to tell them. Imagine a world without communication! Can’t, right? Communicating with others is what every living being does. Without communication the world would be like a silent movie—you can see them but can’t hear them.
The parent-child relationship is no different. If anything, the communication has to be apposite and impactful, compared to any other relationship, as here one of the parties involved is not an adult. I am sure all parents know the importance of communicating with their child, but what many don’t realize is that communication is not always positive. Communication can also be negative, effective or ineffective. Aaron Goldman aptly said, “Communicate unto the other person that which you would want him to communicate unto you if your positions were reversed.”
Let’s look at the things that parents can avoid while communicating with their children.
1. Nagging and Preaching
Nagging about something will not have the effect that you, as a parent, want. Repeating the same thing over and over again will make your child lose interest in what you are saying. Similarly, preaching can be a negative or ineffective way of communicating with your child. Nobody likes to listen to lengthy anecdotes. To keep the communication effective and positive, tell them what you want to say in short or instead of nagging or preaching, use a consequence such as a time-out or no playtime for a day.
2. Mocking, Teasing, or Sarcasm
Parents should avoid mocking or teasing their child if they want to communicate effectively. You don’t want your child to feel belittled by you, out of all the people. In the same way, sarcasm should also be avoided completely. The use of sarcasm, either completely goes to waste, as many children do not understand sarcasm at a young age, and if they do, it hurts their feelings. Parents should pay close attention to the tone that they use while communicating with children.
As a parent, it is important to remember that you should never, and I mean never, criticize your child, their ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc. Criticizing your child can result in lowered self-worth, which can have a highly negative impact if it sets in. Politely question your children and try to reason with them with facts and examples instead of criticizing.
4. Dwelling on the Past
Once an issue has been resolved, ensure that you do not bring it up again. Each time your child makes a mistake, or you want to put your message across, bringing up their old mistakes is not the solution. If anything, it is going to have an adverse effect, as the child may think that whatever they do or however they try to change, the mistakes of their past will always be remembered. It can demotivate them. Let children know that they start afresh after an issue is resolved and never mention it again.
When your child is communicating with you, let them finish what they want to say. It is called being polite and should be followed not only with adults but with children as well. Let the child put their message across. You can talk once they are finished. If you keep interrupting when your child is speaking, they will lose the need for coming to you and may stop communicating altogether. In Ernst Hemingway’s words, “When people talk listen completely. Most people never listen.” Nobody wants to be a parent who doesn’t listen to their children.
6. Using Threats
As a parent, you may think that threats can help you get your child to listen, but that is not the truth. It may work a few times. However, if you threaten your child frequently, it is going to have a conflicting effect. Using threats towards your child can make them feel helpless and can lead to a feeling of antipathy towards their parents.
Communicating with your child in the right manner plays a vital role to build a strong relationship with them. At the same time, if you don’t pay attention, negative, or ineffective communication can make the child feel ignored or unwanted, and it can lead to a lot of misunderstandings as children may feel that their parents are uncooperative and unreliable.