Effective communication with your middle school child
Did you ever feel like you are talking to a wall whenever you try to have a conversation with your middle school child? It can be challenging to break the barrier that your adolescent puts up. In fact, it is almost an art to master the skills to communicate effectively with your child.
There appears to be a right and wrong way to communicate, and if you experience a brick wall whenever you try to have a conversation, you probably need to change your tactics. As an adolescent, your child is sensitive and requires the freedom to express what’s on their mind without being judged. Therefore, the way to speak with them plays a crucial role in encouraging them to confide in you.
Here are some tips on how to engage in a meaning conversation with your tweens.
Always keep the conversation flowing
It is tempting to use a firm tone to instruct your adolescents to make them do what you want. However, it is the surest way for you to walk into a brick wall later on when you want to talk to them about something important. Therefore, try to use a tone that reflects your concern and respect for their feelings and even privacy. It helps to assure them that you see them as a young person and understand that they need space as much as you do.
Engage in conversation with them early and often. Do not wait until a crisis before you talk to them about crucial matters. When you show that you are interested in their lives from the beginning, it is easier for them to open up and seek your advice when there is a problem.
Take the indirect approach
As parents, we make the same mistakes all too often. We think that our children should talk to us whenever we want them to and so we say, “We need to talk,” and expect them to sit down and open up. The fact is, our children may be struggling with internal conflicts or perhaps coping with self-esteem issues that they are ashamed to admit. By taking the direct approach, we are pushing them away from us because they feel that we are treating them as a young kid.
Instead, start by asking them to do something pleasant with you. For example, if your children enjoy the great outdoors, suggest going for a bicycle ride down to the park or the beach for a picnic. Get their help to pack a basket together and chat about nothing with them. You can take the lead by telling them what’s going on in your life. It helps to give your adolescents the perception that you are giving them the low-down of your life and that you trust them with your feeling as a person. The sharing can open up the conversation and help you to slowly but steadily, encourage them to open up to you about their lives. The mindless actions of packing the picnic basket and the enjoyment of riding the bicycle also put your adolescents at ease to talk about their lives and what problems they may be facing.
Do not keep constant eye contact
Have you ever met a person where he or she keeps constant eye contact with you? Did it make you feel uncomfortable? The same applies to your children. It makes them uncomfortable if you are maintaining constant eye contact during a conversation.
Hence, if it is a casual conversation about school and their friends, continue to do what you are doing and talk to them at the same time. It helps to encourage your children to open up if they think that you are not 100% listening. You can catch on the subtle problems in this manner. However, do be sensitive to what your children want. Take note of their behaviours and body languages and act accordingly.
Be ready to give them your unconditional support
It is vital to let your adolescents know that you are ready to render your unconditional support to them whenever they need it. If your children come to you in obvious distress, drop whatever you are doing and give them your full attention. It could have taken a lot for them to come to you, so the only thing that you can do is to pay attention. It helps to reinforce your reliability as a parent and protector.
Nothing is more important than the well-being of your children. So, even if it is an urgent business call or meeting, postponing it in favour of a distressed child is reasonable.
What works best?
There is no proven method but use the above tips to see which one works best for your children. Everyone is different, so be prepared to try a few tips before it works. The key is to let them know that you are ready whenever they are, and be able to build a close relationship with your middle school child based on trust and open communication.
By Zerlina Zhuang