Parent Child Communication

Parent child communication advice: successful elements that build communication between generations.

Feelings can be difficult for grown adults to talk about. We often hear people say they do not have the words to discuss their feelings. It may even take years of practice for people to learn skills to express and manage their feelings. However, it is possible to learn these skills. Once we have some mastery of these skills, it is essential to share them with our children. This shall create successful elements that will facilitate communication between generations.

Child: "Mom I want that new tot."

Mom: "You can not have that toy."

Child: "I need it."

Mom: "You do not need it."

Conversations like this one can be heard almost in every public arena where there are parents and children. This can be a hassle for both the parent and child! Upon first examination of this small conversation, one may not see the feeling content of the child or the depth the caretaker's immediate response to the child's feelings. Take a second look at the conversation. Do you notice that the child states a feeling, the feeling of need? Do you also notice that the mother contradicts the child's stated feeling by negating the feeling? "Problem - parents don't usually accept their children's feelings. Steady denial of feelings can confuse and enrage kids. It Also teaches them not to know what their feeling are-not to trust them" (Faber and Mazlish, 1980).

What is just as interesting, is that many parents do not think that they partake in these types of conversations. Some professionals suggest that parents should take time out and analyze their conversations with their children. They should try to highlight instances where the child may be stating a feeling, and where they, the parent, are not acknowledging such feelings.



Child: "Mom I want this new toy."

Mom: "You can not have that toy."

Child: "I need it."

Mom: "You do not need it."

Child: "I do to need it." Child starts to stamp their feet.

Mom: "You do not need it. You already have ten like it."

Child: "I do not. I need this one."

Many arguments between parents and their children may in fact start with a child stating a feeling that goes unrecognizing. Some steps adults can use to talk to their children about feelings are as follows, from the book, "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk," by Faber and Mazlish:

1. Listen with full attention - this does not mean half listening, watching television, or trying to write something while your child is talking to you, it means eye contact, and paying full attention to what your child is saying. This type of attention will send the message to your child that what they have to say is important. This alone, may help your child feel listened to, and more importantly, HEARD!

2. Acknowledge their feelings with words. When your child is talking refrain from questioning, and just acknowledge what they are saying with a word or two - "Oh, I see". "It is hard for a child to think clearly when someone is questioning, blaming, or advising." Simple words "coupled with a caring attitude, are invitations to a child to explore her own thoughts and feelings, and possibly come up with her own solutions" (Faber and Mazlish, 1980).

3. Give the feeling a name - instead of denying the feeling. "When we urge a child to push a bad feeling away - however kindly - the child only seems to get more upset. The child who hears the words for what he is experiencing is deeply comforted. Someone has acknowledged his inner experience" (Fabre and Mazlish, 1980).

4. Give a child his wishes in fantasy - instead of explanation and logic. "When children want something they can not have, adults usually respond with logical explanations of why they can't have it. Often the harder we explain, the harder they protest. Sometimes just having someone understand how much you want something makes reality easier to bear" (Faber and Mazlish, 1980).

Trying these four steps when talking about feelings with your child may help to decrease arguments, and enhance communication between caretaker and child.

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