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While some may think it should be obvious why you should be talking to your child let me start off with some reasons for you before we move forward. There are lots of reasons why you should be talking to them and maybe for some "talking" should be defined...I am not talking about "good morning, here is your breakfast" nor am I talking about telling them what chores they need to do. I mean REALLY talking to them - deep conversations, conversations about life and experiences, how they are feeling.
Some quick reasons that I can give you on why you should be talking to your children are: to monitor what information they are receiving on various topics, seeing what they think about different things happening in their life and in the world, and most importantly to get to know who they really are and build a relationship with them.
So, I have come up with a small list of things to remember when having conversations with your children that will aid in raising mentally and emotionally healthy children. These are some things that should always be present whether it is a lighthearted conversation, a discipline moment, or heavier conversations.
Listen more than you speak
This can be a really tough one for parents because we believe that we have so many important things to say, right? However, so do they. By listening to them you are doing a couple of different things with this one step - affirming that what they have to say and what they think is important, allowing them to process thoughts aloud, and you also learn more about them through the things that they talk about and how they express themselves.
Think Beyond Today
When I speak about mindful parenting this is the number one rule, always. Any and everything that you say to your child can impact the way that they view themselves, others, and the world around them. So, when you speak to them remember that your words carry on beyond the moment that they slip out. If someone else spoke to you the way that you spoke to your children what would you believe about yourself and your relationship with that person? If you heard someone else speaking to your child the way that you do, would you be okay with it or ready to jump on them?
Check Your Ego
When I say check your ego I mean avoiding saying things like, "How could you...when I..." or, "You're not gonna talk to me like that". That is 100% ego coming out. It can be easy to get caught up in your own feelings, putting yours over theirs. But remember, their feelings matter just as much as yours. Make sure that you are not responding from a place of ego and you will be able to think beyond today much better. There are other ways to say both of those statements and others. For example, instead of making it about what you do for them (they did not ask to be here and anything you can insert in that blank is probably one of your responsibilities as a parent). Instead of focusing on the way that they said a particular statement you can reframe in a way that focuses on how they are feeling, for example, "I can tell that you are passionate about what you are saying and I really want to hear and understand what you are saying and how I can help you." modeling goes a long way in this area.
Watch Your Tone
This is similar to what I was saying before - if you would not want your child to talk to you the way that you speak to them or if you would quit your job for your supervisor speaking to you that way maybe it is not appropriate for you to speak to your children that way. Think about it this way, what are you teaching your child about the way that others should speak to them? Think a few years down the road and now your son or daughter is married and you hear their partner speak to them the same way that you do, what would be your reaction?
Grace and Love
If you speak to your child always putting grace and love first what would be different? All of these things will be much easier if you put grace and love first.