Approaching Your Child In A Better Way
How do you approach your child?
Knowing how to approach your child with a difficult conversation is hard. That conversation might be about a struggle they are having or a behavior you want them to stop. It might be about a circumstance that is about to change in their lives or a conversation about their future. You might be inquiring about essential things in their life or just trying to connect with them more. Often parents confront and approach their children in a way that results in an argument, a short and dismissive answer, or complete disregard.
As a parent, it is easy to take it personally and give back what you are getting or worse. Sometimes parents are afraid to talk to their children about things like mental health, bullying, social issues, defiance, or other issues. Parents fear that they might worsen their problem if they talk about it. How do we healthily approach our children? How do we talk to our children about difficult topics while balancing being loving and assertive?
It’s important to think first about what has and has not worked in the past. It is human nature to continue to use tactics that have never worked but make a lot of sense in our minds. Get rid of what doesn’t work, even if it should work. Next, get your heart and your spirit in a healthy place. Often as parents, we get stuck in wanting to make a point, convince our children to discuss what we want them to discuss, and fix whatever is going on. Instead, position yourself mentally in a place to walk alongside them with love and healthy boundaries.
The following are a few things to think about as you confront and approach your child about difficult subjects:
1. Stay calm. Remember that calm parenting is best regardless of the emotion you are feeling or communicating.
2. Be kind. Even when your child is mistreating you, remember that you are modeling healthy behaviors that they will hopefully mimic by the time they are 30. You need to have a kind heart and spirit to influence your child.
3. Be patient and slow. Step out of the box and have a patient spirit. You will have more influential interactions because you will see more opportunities to connect, and you will have a better understanding of what is going on with your child.
4. Listen more than you talk. This fits with the spirit of being patient and slow. It is so vital that you speak as little as possible. Keep it simple, don’t repeat yourself, and be willing to wait during long uncomfortable periods of silence. Doing this will be a significant step in becoming a safe parent to process with.
5. Do not yell and do not cuss. When you yell and cuss, you risk triggering your child or shutting your child down. They may hear you at the moment out of desperation, but they will be unlikely to maintain your messages in the long run. On top of all of that, you will be modeling yelling.
6. Don’t put them down, even if your words are true. Remember that when you talk down to or put your child down, you are modeling unhealthy relationships and risk causing unintended defensiveness, emotional damage, and self-esteem issues. What rarely happens is that the child gets put down in the middle of a crisis, suddenly changes their behavior, and becomes thankful that you pointed out their character flaws.
7. Be obliviously curious. I use this term to describe that you should often set aside what you know and think you know so that you can keep it simple, ask questions, and listen. When you are curious about your child without your preconceived notions, they are more likely to feel heard and loved.
8. Don’t participate in insane conversations. Insane conversations are the ones you have had over and over again, hoping for a different result. It is when you ask a question but are just trying to make a point. It is when you engage in a conversation even though both parties know there will not be a resolution. You will be significantly tempted to participate in “Insane Conversations,” but if you think back, you will most likely realize that they never go well, especially in the long run.
9. Don’t worry about their response. Doing all the above will be much easier if you stop worrying so much about their response. As an adult and a parent, you must be consistent in healthy relationship behaviors regardless of your child’s response. Your frontal lobe is connected, and theirs is not. They are figuring out their identity and are very new in their journey, and you hopefully have a good sense of identity. You are experienced enough not to take things personally and to know that the immediate response is often not the end all be all.