Here are some points to keep in mind as you communicate with your child:
- Listen actively.
- Make and keep eye contact.
- Look for the underlying messages in what your child is saying. What is the emotional tone or climate?
- Show respect for his ideas and feelings. Stay away from sarcasm, hurtful teasing, blaming, belittling, and fault-finding.
- Use "I" messages and avoid "you" messages and put-downs.
- Be honest.
- Be sensitive to the times and places that are good for talking. If your youngster comes home from school tired, give him some time to rest or have a snack before you communicate what may be on your mind. If you come home tired, take a rest yourself. Choose a quiet, private area in which to talk.
- Praise or reward your child from time to time when he shows good listening habits. He may be motivated to listen more carefully and follow through on what you are saying if his efforts are recognized.
If you and your youngster have ongoing problems with communication, ask your pediatrician for some guidance. He or she may suggest having your child evaluated for problems that may be interfering, such as language and attention deficits, or family issues. Your pediatrician might also be able to refer you and your child to a family counselor who can work out the difficulties that can improve your communication skills.