Parenting Resources
Communication Skills

It take years for people to learn to express and manage their feelings. Once we have some mastery of these skills, it is necessary to share them with our children. This will create successful elements of communication between parents and children.

You must have been confronted several times by your child wanting to buy something specific he/ she saw at a shop. You must have in all probability responded in the negative and stated that the child already had something similar. One may not at the outset appreciate the feelings expressed by the child or the depth of the parent's immediate response to the child's feelings. If we examine the conversation again we will realize that the child states a feeling, the feeling of need, and the parent contradicted the child's stated feeling by negating the feeling. Parents don't usually accept their children's feelings. Constant denial can confuse kids. It may also teach them not to trust their feelings. Many parents are not even aware that they actually make such negative conversations, because they do not take time off to analyze their conversations.

Some steps adults can use to talk to their children about feelings, excerpted from the book, "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk," by Faber and Mazlish are given below :-
(a) Listen with Attention - Do not watch television, write or do anything else when your child is talking to you. Make direct eye contact, and pay attention to what your child is saying. This will send the message to your child that what they have to say is important. Your child will feel listened to, and more importantly, heard!
(b) Acknowledge Feelings with Words - Never question your child when he/ she is talking. Acknowledge with a word or two. A child can not think clearly when someone is questioning, blaming, or advising.
(c) Allow a child to Fantasize - When children want something, and you feel they should not, you respond with logical explanations of why they can't have it. The more we explain , the more they protest. Sometimes just being able to tell someone how much you want something, makes it easier.

Parent-Child Communication

Many young people feel unconnected to home, family, and school and get involved in activities that are undesirable and risky. However, when parents affirm values, we find that the youth develop positive, healthy attitudes about themselves, in most cases. Communication between parents and children helps to establish individual values and facilitates healthy decision making. Many young adults desire a closer relationship with their parents. They are concerned about parental opinions and wish for effective communication with their parents, but feel uncomfortable talking with them. They feel that their parents don't either listen, or understand.

Hugging your children can go a long way in making them feel connected. Listening to what they say and talking to them is the next step to physical, psychological, and all round development of the child. The onus is on the parent to figure out why the child is finding it difficult to talk about what's going on in his/her life. Are you comfortable discussing sensitive issues with your child? Or do you shy away? Does your child listen to you? If not, why? Do you listen to your child? Always hear your child out. Do not interrupt. Do not correct. Let them finish speaking before you say anything. Many teens feel that their parents don't have time for them. Make time to listen to your children. Stop whatever you're doing and listen. Never postpone, whenever the child wants to speak is the right time.

Learn about your child's interests such as their favourite music, movies and books. These are excellent topics to discuss with teens. Do not react aggressively in disagreement. Otherwise, they may decide not to say anything to you. Children have this ability to shut you off if you are offensive. Try to put forward your opinion without putting down theirs. Kids do not always want advise, sometimes they just want to state how they're feeling. I just can not help repeating this bit I read on the internet. In the early 1940s, the British used to warn Indian freedom fighters about the possible and awful mistakes the inexperienced Indian leaders would make if they were allowed self rule. Mahatma Gandhi's response to this was, "But at least these would be our mistakes." Kids too want to learn from their own choices and as long as their mistakes are not dangerous, let them make the choices.

Let us understand why communications skills are so important. The purpose of communication is to get your message across to others. This is a process that involves both the sender of the message and the receiver. This process leaves room for error, with messages often misinterpreted by one or more of the parties involved. This causes unnecessary confusion. In fact, a message is successful, only when both the sender and the receiver perceive it in the same way. By successfully getting your message across, you convey your thoughts and ideas effectively. When you are not successful, the thoughts and ideas that you convey do not necessarily reflect your own, causing a communication breakdown and creating blockages that stand in the way of your goals - both personal and professional. For students, communication takes place in the class room, as well as during examinations. Getting this communication to be effective is essential to ensure acquiring of knowledge by the student, as well his performance in examinations.

Many people are intimidated by "writing". Writing is the only mode of communication in most examinations. There are other times when writing is the best way to communicate, and often the only way to get your message across. When writing, one needs to be careful of the fact that once something is written, it cannot be withdrawn. Communicating in writing can be more definite than verbal communications, with lesser errors and mistakes. Written communications , however , present challenges, which may include spelling, grammar, punctuation, even writing style and actual wording. But verbal abilities are crucial in development of skills and in most professions, and has to be given it's due.

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