3 TIPS ON HOW TO COMMUNICATE DURING CONFLICTS
Having conflicts and disagreements are part of life even if none of us likes it. Knowing how to deal with them effectively reduces stress and anxiety and increases potential for personal and relationship growth. As a parent, you want to be a role model and show your child how to handle conflicts in a constructive way.
So, here are a few suggestions about how to communicate during conflicts in a healthy way.
1. Taking turns to listen and speak. We often know what we want to say in the heat of a conversation. But, do we know how to listen to our child, to give her an opportunity to voice her concerns/worries/requests so that she can express her point of view as well?
You and your child should take turns in speaking and listening so that everyone gets a chance to express their feelings and thoughts. The goal is not to solve the problem, but rather have a safe and meaningful discussion in which you and your child have an opportunity to understand each other’s perspective.
2. Using “I” messages. In general, it is good procedure to use “I” messages when expressing ourselves. It becomes crucial when a conflict arises. One benefit of “I” messages is to avoid accusing and blaming your child for behaving the way he/she did. Instead, it puts the focus on how you feel. For instance, instead of saying “You never put your toys away like you are supposed to.”, try something like “I feel frustrated when your toys are not put away.” In the last scenario, your child is much less likely to rebel or resist what you expect from them. Also, it does feel less threatening than accusing or blaming. Finally, “I” messages show your child how to take responsibility for their own actions as you do it yourself when expressing your own feelings.
3. Working collaboratively. When you work together with your child, issues can be solved in mutually satisfactory and realistic ways for both parties. First, as stated above, use empathy to gather information from your child to understand his/her perspective. Second, you, as a parent, define the issue by communicating your own perspective. Finally, invite your child to brainstorm solutions with you. The solution should address each other’s concerns. For each solution, ask yourself, “Is it safe? How might people feel about it? Is it fair? Will it work?” Be flexible, if one solution does not work, then you and your child should try an alternative one.
Dealing with conflicts can take varying amounts of mental, emotional, and physical energy. However, learning and implementing these few tips can increase positive interactions between you and your child.
THE SECRET TO GET YOUR CHILD LISTEN TO YOU
As a parent, you may wonder how to make your child listen to you. When we get frustrated our first reaction is often to yell at our child. However, yelling does not work. Worse than that, studies show that yelling is actually detrimental to your child. Long term effects of yelling include lack of self-confidence, demonstration of aggressive behavior in social settings with peers such as pushing, hitting, or biting.
So, what is the secret? The secret is to really listen to your child. Simple, too simple? Not so much in our 21st century when everyone is all the time busy. So, what do I mean by listen truly to your child. First, let me tell you why it is essential to really learn how to listen. When you listen to your child you are showing them that you are interested and care about what they have to say. To a child, this equals to feeling loved. Your child will then think “OK. If daddy/mommy listens to me, this means he/she is interested in what I am saying, he/she is interested in me, he/she loves me.” Inevitably, this will boost your child’s self-esteem and self-worth.
Here are some important steps to become a good listener:
1. Eliminate distraction. Your child should get your undivided attention when he is talking to you. So, put away your cell phone, tablet, or computer. Your child will get the message that you are truly ready to listen to her.
2. Listen with a closed mouth. I know this can be challenging for some of us, but it is a requirement. If your child has some difficulty to speak, a smile or a touch can encourage her.
3. Let your child know you have heard her. After your child is finished speaking, restate in your own words what you heard. For instance, you may say “Oh boy, you must have a really bad day at school today!” This shows your child you paid attention to what she said. Also, this helps clarify any misunderstanding you may have about your child’s message.
4. Express your own feelings and ideas. If you share your own feelings and thoughts with your child, it will have a few benefits. First, it will teach your child your values and morals, but be careful to do it in a non-judgmental way. Second, it will show your child how to open up to you as you open up to them.
Remember that when you role model a behavior, your child will integrate this message as something she can do herself. So, if you show your child how to listen to her, then when it comes for her to listen to you, she will automatically do it as this is this model she has witnessed from you.
As a parent and a therapist, I want to offer some tips on how to raise happy and healthy kids. Please feel free to comment on my posts.