Recently I have found myself rather frustrated when trying to communicate with my two girls. They are 7 and 10 years old, which would lead you to believe, that by now they should have developed outstanding listening skills. However, to my disappointment, it seems that this is not the case.
When trying to get their attention, I mostly receive a rather blank stare or a reply that starts with “but Mom”, followed by some explanation as to why they are not able to listen at that particular moment. So I find myself searching for other methods to communicate with them. By now I must admit that raising your voice or “shouting”, as my eldest calls it and believe me it is not shouting, comes to no avail.
What I do realise, is that they would rather be somewhere else than having to listen to me lecturing them on the merits of cleaning their room or studying, for that very important test. It is however, vitally important that we are able to communicate openly and effectively with our children, especially as they approach the delicate teenage years.
During their earlier years of development I pretty much read all the parenting books on offer, especially those dealing with sleep methods. As my Paediatrician, at the time, pointed out, by the time you have tried all the methods and remedies on hand they should be sleeping through. Whether this is due to you, discovering the right sleep methods or your child simply forming a good sleep pattern on their own, is something you will probably never know. I guess this could be said for so many other parenting challenges we may face.
The further along the parenting road I travel; I am starting to think that if we are patient enough, our children will develop certain skills on their own without our assistance. However being the loving parent I am, I still feel the need to assist their every step. I am speaking from my own experiences and this probably will not apply to some.
So here I am again scouring all the resources available to me and the most common advice that I have come across, is listen to your children. Every fibre of my being is questioning this statement, how can I listen to them if they are not listening to me? Yes I do realise how child–like that may sound but I am sure you are probably wondering the same thing. I guess that in essence if you listen to them, you may better understand where they are coming from and more easily find the solution to the issue.
I have found that to achieve any meaningful level of communication I have to remain calm and most importantly make eye–contact with the girls. This is probably the most vital part of knowing, that what you are saying is actually being received and understood. I understand this approach is not always the easiest or most practical but, in my opinion, achieves far greater results.
I have found some interesting advice on the subject, on a web site, that expands on what I have discussed and gives practical methods to help you communicate with your child. For example: you should address your child by their name, keep your instructions short and to the point and always ask them to repeat the instruction back to you, to ascertain whether they are taking it on board. Follow this link to read further: 25 WAYS TO TALK SO YOUR CHILDREN WILL LISTEN.
Some of these methods do apply to younger children but you can easily adapt it to your situation or need. I understand that most of the advice sounds so simple but perhaps it is in the simple things that we find the solutions.
I would love to hear any comments or advice you may have, on this or other parenting challenges you have experienced.