How to improve communication with your child, mindfully
Angie Harris shares this video and mindfulness challenge for you to do with your children as you are picking them up from school, driving, any commute.
When on a daily commute with your child/children make a decision NOT to correct them. #1 Actively listen and not correct them. #2 While you are listening, notice what is happening on your inside and outside (that mindfulness) see if you can give yourself some kindness.
Connect with Your Kids in 3 Steps
Since becoming a mom in 2010, I have understood in a new light, how important positive communication skills are. As written by Jeni Hooper in What Children Need to be Happy, Confident, and Successful, “Positive communication has a triple effect. It gives children the skills which makes relationships satisfying. It builds strong relationships with an adult who can support and protect them. It creates the security which makes children feel confident and able to play and learn.“
1. Make an Intention to Listen, Not Correct
I thought parenting was all teaching, correcting, disciplining and advising. I have learned that the sweet spot of communication lies within the listener as much as with the talker. Maybe even more.
The next time you have a chat with your child, make the intention to listen with your whole self without correcting. Just listen. This process will allow your child to speak their thoughts, opinions, and choices without the fear of judgment.
2. Notice What Is Happening In You
I grew up in a household with a fixed communication style. Be heard through yelling. Mom yelled. Dad yelled. Nanny yelled. They loved us, and each other a lot. And they yelled. A lot.
As a child, I knew I did not like yelling. As an adult, I dislike being corrected and yelled at, even though I have the ability and maturity to defend myself. Imagine what it feels like to a small child who does not have the same strength to articulate how they are feeling. Being yelled at may feel like what little power children have in the adult child dynamic gets stripped away.
Though most of us parents are convinced that correcting, yelling, and adjusting are necessary parts of the job description. For example, take doing homework with your child.
Reactionary Correction: “#5 is wrong. Do it again.”
Mindful Suggestion: “How did you get to that answer for #5?”
Mindful Suggestion: “What do you think about #5?”
Each time I correct my children I notice my chest tighten. Yet, when I ask them questions about how they arrived at the decisions they made, I do not feel any strong physical reaction. Listening has a profound impact on our own stress levels. Deep listening actually increases compassion, empathy, and kindness, allowing for personal benefits as well as positive outcomes for your child.
3. Ask for advice
Children have wisdom to share if we will listen. Just ask them for their opinion on something that caused you to make a decision, and really listen to how well they use their own experiences to come to an answer.
Pick an experience that caused you to have to make a decision. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being a major stressful event, 1 being no stress at all, keep the experience you choose below a 5. Ask your child what they would have done if they were in your shoes. If the experience involves another person, ask your child what they would have done if they were in their position.
Allow your child to speak without correcting or advising them. It is really important that your child speaks freely without the fear of being wrong, and we can ensure this by deeply listening as we practiced in step 2.
It may sound something like this:
“Today at the grocery store I accidentally bumped my car into another cart. The woman pushing the cart turned and looked at me quickly. She did not look happy. What do you think about that? or Has anyone ever bumped into you accidentally? What did you do?”
On our commute home from school my 9-year-old told me about his interpretation of an assembly at school for Kindness Week. He didn’t like it for a few reasons. One was “too much adult talking “
I noticed a strong urge to tell him what I would have done if I had delivered the assembly. STRONG. I breathed, placed my tongue firmly behind my teeth and listened.
He paused. I breathed.
Then he began to tell me how he would deliver an assembly on kindness so kids were “more involved”.
My 7-year-old son agreed that his school assembly was “good but not fun”, and he also began to design his own to encourage more kindness at school. “Especially in the bathroom” as he honestly stated😂
Their ideas 💡 were GREAT. As I listened I noticed my “I could have done it better” mind state shift to inspiration and gratitude with thoughts of “that’s a great idea…thanks!”
Active listening on the kid commute for the win! 👂🏿♥️🙏🏽