Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Guest Post: 10 Tips for Having Difficult Conversations, Part 2
Use their words
Of all the things you do, this is probably the one that will make the biggest difference. Using our child’s words shows them that we are listening and that makes them feel validated. A great way to do this is to say, “What I understood you to say was ____” and then use as many of their words as you can remember. Take this one step further by then asking if what you understood was what they meant. When we use their words to clarify, we are sending a powerful message that we not only care what they are talking about, but we want to understand their view and concerns, and that speaks volume to them.
Use your inside voice
Duh, of course you should use your inside voice. But, when emotions are running high we forget. Once we raise our voice our children will raise their voices to match ours and at that point it’s pretty much a given that we’ve lost control of the conversation.
Listen without judgement
As parents we sometimes want to impart all of our hard earned wisdom on our children. But, often our children just need us to listen and not to judge or offer suggestion. This is especially important during difficult conversations. Difficult conversations shouldn’t be one-way lectures. We need to listen to their fears, concerns, and their feelings before we begin the process of fixing the situation.
Take a break if needed
Just because we start a conversation, doesn’t mean that we have to finish it right that moment. In fact, muddling through a conversation when feelings are running high is the worst thing you can do. It’s ok to take breaks and come back when emotions aren’t running high as it allows each party to process the what was talked about. Also, be aware of the age of your child. Younger children do better with shorter and more frequent conversations on the same topic, while older children can handle longer conversations.
Have frequent conversations
If the only time you really talk with your children is when you’re discussing difficult conversations, those talks will be painful. Trust is built over time. Because we talked about everything all the time, it wasn’t scary to have difficult conversations as I knew my mom would listen and not judge.
Just because difficult conversations may have ended up in tears or a shouting match in the past, doesn’t mean that future conversations have to turn out that way.
SmarterParenting.com is a free website teaching parents and children the behavior skills of the Teaching-Family Model.
To ready Part 1, click here!