Are you tired of the misunderstandings, the pity fights, the unwanted hurt, and other negative consequences of bad communication?
I know I hate it when I try to say something and end up hurting my children by accident. And because guilt is often a trigger for anger, I become angry on top of it. Or I am completely discouraged at my demand not going through and me repeating myself a thousand times (or so it feels).
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Why A Good Communication Is So Important
Like anything we want to build, we need foundations. I know, with the little time and energy we moms have left, it seems like yet another task. But remember the 3 little pigs story, you don’t want a straw house!
There is a truth in parenting: the time you invest in your children is paid back many times. Because instead of having to repeat the same things again and again for the next 16 years, you can put energy into learning to communicate better for a few weeks, and then it’s just maintenance.
Let’s see to those foundations. We all know that words can hurt, and hurt badly. I would like you to think of three things you were told as children and that have had a long-lasting influence on you or maybe still does.
For example, my three things are:
- You are bad at sport,
- You sing horribly,
- What you say doesn’t matter.
I still believe those things at some level and always will. Even though the persons who said it to me didn’t mean any harm. They were just impatient adults.
The messages we hear as children can affect our lives deeply, like this little girl who was dancing and singing through the house, and her very tired mom told her to stop that horrible dancing and singing. A simple sentence who turned a joyful girl into a quiet, discreet one, trying forever to become invisible.
Roadblocks To Effective Communication
A good way to start foundations is to be aware of the communication roadblocks. Those twelve points are communication killers. When you use them, you are not communicating in the sense of open, positive communication.
Those are a one-way road, and one that ends in a wall. It happens quite often in an unbalanced parent-child relationship. A better communication system means that there is a possibility for both parties to express their feelings and be heard.
It might sound like more work, but the positivity you gain from it is priceless. When your children feel heard and acknowledge, they don’t need to misbehave, yell, cry, and slam doors to get their point through. They can simply express it with calm words.
Now, take a moment to check those roadblocks and spot the ones you are using with your children. You can print it or do a screenshot and put it somewhere visible for a little while, just to practice consciousness about them.
Be Impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. – Don Miguel Ruiz
A Better Communication System Kills Power Struggles
You might not know it, but those power struggles are energy vampires. Sometimes I truly wonder if there is a kind of little demon specialized in fights and sitting on my shoulder enjoying the show.
Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. – Charles R. Swindoll
How on earth do I find myself in a power struggle so often?
A power struggle means that the goal of communication is for one of the persons to get the upper hand. There has to be a winner. The first purpose of the communication was lost on the way.
My daughter tends to trigger this in me. I know that, but that doesn’t tell me how to do it differently. Even though I don’t want her to submit to me, but I want her to listen without fighting back!
The first step is to recognize a power struggle when you see one. It’s kind of easy. When your conversation feels like arm-wrestling and leaves you frustrated, you get one. A power struggle creates vertical communication when what you want is a horizontal one.
The second step is to defuse it. You are the adult in the room. You are in charge. It is your responsibility. Remember that and breathe, it will help to evacuate the build-up anger.
To do so is sometimes as simple as voicing it for your child, so they can become a part of the solution. Your child might react strongly, which is fine. Try and help by expressing how you feel and how they might feel.
For example, the other morning, I was fighting with my daughter. It was a « yes you do/no, I don’t » argument. Going nowhere obviously. After a few minutes of this, I spotted the power struggle and breathed deeply.
– Cassie, I feel angry over nothing. I don’t even remember why we fight (dubious look from my daughter).
– I can tell you are very angry too, and that makes me sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you (my daughter’s eyes are feeling with tears).
– What about we find a better way to solve this? (my daughter going to her room because she has too many feelings).
She came back 5 minutes later, gave me a hug and we found a solution together.
Communicate With Your Child In A Better Way
Mostly, as a general observation, one can tell that adults don’t speak to children as nicely, or as politely as they would to fellow adults.
We make a lot of demands, we give a lot of orders and we listen little. The main reason we do it that way is that it’s what we know. The second is that we are often tired and overwhelmed and just wish for things to go our way.
The problem is that the more we pressure, the more we go deep in this unbalanced relationship, the more our children will fight back. And they would be right to.
Submissive children are afraid children. Afraid to damage their relationship with their parent, which is the most important thing to a child.
Seeking other ways to communicate with our children gives them an opportunity to bloom and learn to express their needs and feelings. Once they know how to do that, they don’t need to misbehave anymore, nor to test you and seek your attention.
Doesn’t it sound like a nice perspective?
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I wish you all the best with your kids, always remember that we all do the best we can at a given moment, so don’t judge yourself too harshly. Be confident and listen to your intuition. If what you do comes from a place of love, then you’re on the right path.
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