There is a popular parenting book called "How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen". I have to be honest, I prefer to suggest that we learn How to Listen So That Our Children Will Talk.
When my children were very young they loved to talk to me. To be honest, there were moments when I longed for a bit of peace and quiet! Then those little people became adolescents and the non-stop chatter turned into grunts, arguing or even worse - silence. It made me look back on those days of non-stop chatter with nostalgia!
It can make you start to wonder where you went wrong and if your relationship will ever be close and loving again. Don’t despair - it is possible to reconnect with your child!
How To Connect With Your Child
It starts with creating an empathetic connection. Simply, that means that you offer a safe and accepting space for them to be who they are without fear of criticism or judgment.
What does this look like?
- Show that you respect them as unique, imperfect developing human beings, just as you would like to be respected by others. Let them know that their thoughts and feelings matter too. We all have good and bad days, none of us are perfect. Compassion and a sense of humour go a long way to bring us closer together.
- Accept your children for who they are, even if their likes, dislikes, character and temperament are different from yours. It is not your job to change them, but it is your job to love them and help them be the best them they can be. When children know that they are unconditionally accepted and loved, they know that they can trust you. Trust and safety are the cornerstones of all relationships.
- Show an interest in what interests your children, even if it’s not your thing at all! You may have absolutely no desire to know anything about their favourite video game or singer! However, by making the effort to learn more about it, you show that what matters to your child matters to you. When they see this, it creates an opening for connection and conversation, even if it starts in what may seem to you to be a superficial way.
- Listen to understand rather than to correct or fix or teach a lesson. We all just want to be heard and understood, don’t we? And ultimately, as parents, we want to create a loving and supportive environment in which our children are encouraged and equipped to learn (and practice) how to solve the problems that life throws their way, with us standing on the sideline coaching and cheering them on.
Do You Want Help To Connect With Your Child?
The No-Fault Zone® Game is a wonderful tool to use if you are struggling to connect with your children as it guides you both step-by-step, naturally leading to a deeper understanding of one another.
The game helps you to understand both your own and each other’s feelings, shifting any relationship from blame and shame to compassion and consideration. As you move through the cards, you begin to recognise your patterns of behaviour, increasing self-awareness and emotional literacy.
I have seen it happen countless times as families progress through the game - the shared honesty and openness create a mutual awareness and connection that brings them closer together. It truly has the power to transform relationships, we’ve seen it in our own family.