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Do you make any of these communication mistakes?

28 October
Posted by:
Michael Grose
If you want kids to be well-mannered then they need to hear manners used at home.

Sometimes we as parents fall into poor habits, because we get tired and stressed.

Often we revert to language we heard our parents use. When we parent well, we impact on our grandchildren!!

Here are five communication mistakes I hear, with better alternatives as well;

1. Lecturing: ‘When I was you age we didn’t have as many toys and we looked after everything we owned...............’ No one likes being lectured. We tune out, not in. Alternatives: Talk with kids, ask what? questions, challenge their thinking, give reasons and facts.

2. Put-downs: ‘You’re a silly boy. You always forget to hand in notices. You are unreliable.’ We sometimes say stuff like this out of frustration (with a rolling of the eyes and a sigh!). Alternatives: give kids feedback about behaviour without judging, tell how to do something right next time.

3. Sympathising: ‘Oh you poor thing. He was really mean. There. There. You can help it if others pick on you.’ Sympathy talks down to kids and disempowers them. Alternative: Empathise with them, which lets kids know you understand how they feel. ‘It’s awful when kids say mean things to you. I understand that you’d feel rotten, but I’m sure you’ll cope.’

4. Labelling the child: “What a naughty boy you are!” Avoid giving kids a label or reputation to live up to. Alternative: Focus on behaviours, not kids. Love the sinner, hate the sin is the idea here.

5. Parenting down: ‘What mess have you’ve gotten yourself into this time? I knew this would happen......’ Sometimes it only takes one negative comment when kids mess up to silence them and shut them down. Alternative: explore solutions, listen to kids’ sides of a story, and give advice at another time.

Communication is tricky. Do it well and kids are more likely to take notice. Do it poorly, without thinking or in times of frustration or high emotion and we can shut down kids’ communication and we just feel awful.
If you are guilty of any these mistakes, DON’T beat yourself up. We all mess up. Kids are hard yakka. We generally deal with them when we are tired.

BUT use this list to help you reflect on your communication and think about better ways of getting your messages across to kids.

And if you do stuff up then APOLOGISE! Not only are you modelling forgiveness, but you are letting kids know you are human, which can come as quite a relief for many kids!
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