I was chauffeuring my kids one day listening to radio news. The newscaster announced the average American parent spends 3 minutes each day communicating with their kids. I was horrified. 3 minutes? I knew I was doing a much better job than “THOSE” parents and decided to monitor our communication to prove this. I paid close attention for the next week while I communicated with my kids. What I found was that I was talking to my kids more than 3 minutes each day, but it was focused on directions “hurry up and get in the car”, “do you have your homework done?” “stop aggravating her.” So lots of talking and not much communication. I wasn’t doing any better than THOSE parents, I was one of them. I was shocked to learn that I spent so much time give directions and no clear time communicating. So how can you actively communicate with your kids?
- The time spent in the car driving to and from is not great communication time because it limits eye contact and face to face sharing.
- Don’t be afraid to tell your kids you made a mistake or that you are sorry.
- You don’t have to explain reasons for your decisions other than to say you are concerned about their safety. Some times the reason is “because I said so”. Long winded explanations will not help your kids understand any better.
- Always be as honest as possible. Tell them you don’t know everything but are doing best you can.
- Make certain they hear that life is not fair, not everyone wins, things will make them angry throughout life and they will have their feelings hurt.
- Most of all, take the time to listen. Listen without electronics in place, TV on, or while trying to finish a task. Set a time with them to meet later in the day to sit and talk.
- Humor is important in family life. Laughing lessens tension, humanizes us, and helps lower blood pressure, improve our immune system, and lessens pain.
- Admit your mistakes immediately. Kids need to see that parents can admit wrongs and not lose face over it. Introduce the concept of learning from mistakes.
- And cut yourself some slack, you are doing the best you can.
Kim offers a free 10-minute consultation on her Virtual Therapist Network site. Kim accepts most major major insurance companies and even offers a sliding scale for those in lower-income households.
Kim works in Bradley, Illinois and as an On-line Therapist (Video over the Internet) to help her clients verbalize their issues, learn to view things differently, and feel comfortable with their decisions. Just as there is not one correct answer in life, there are multiple ways to find a solution in counseling. Kim will work with you to find the most appropriate solution for you. Please contact Kim at her Associated Counseling office in Bradley Illinois or on-line at the Virtual Therapist Network.