2012/08/17 6:16 pm

What do we need to enhance communication with our kids?

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These 4 skills can help. What else?

In the book ‘Between Parents & Teenager’ Dr. Haim G. Ginott have a quote that applies not only to teenagers, it works equally well with younger kids (like mine) and even can help us to communicate better between adults.

It is a small sentence but In it we can find the wisdom to improve communication with our kids. Ginott says the following: “Describe, don’t evaluate. Deal with events- don’t appraise personality. Describe feelings, don’t evaluate characters.  Give a realistic picture of the accomplishment, don’t glorify the person.”

This time, let’s focus on the first technique ‘Describe, don’t evaluate’. I call this first technique “Say what your eyes see,” that simple, do not add pepper to the problem. If your kids as well as mine, leave their shoes in the middle of the livingroom, when you are going to ask them to pick them up, you should say something like ‘Shoes are in the middle of the livingroom’ or ‘shoes’ and having said that you bite your tongue not to say the next you thought ‘you  always leave your shoes in the livingroom, you’re a mess, don’t wanna know what you’re going to do when they grow up.’

This skill can also be use it to get help from our children to take care of pets, we have a turtle, and has three years or so. At first I feed it because my kids  forgot to do it and the poor turtle went hungry. One day I told my three kids that from now on they were in charge of feeding the turtle. When I see the tortoise starving, I just say ‘The turtle is hungry’ and almost always (we must remember that our kids are people and are not programmed as robots) one of them shouts ‘I will feed it’ and we’re all happy. Sometimes I need to repeat it a couple of times until someone react, especially when they are on the computer or Nintendo. The part of ‘if it were up to you  the turtle would be dead, if you’re unable to take care for a simple turtle, how will you  take care of yourself’ is the part that we should avoid saying at all costs.

Similarly, when they are too close to the TV you can say something like ‘TV should be watched from far away.’  This first technique marked the beginning of a better relationship with my kids,

Say what your eyes see and then of course bite your tongue.

This helps us to NOT lower the self-esteem of our kids, because what we say later often comes with anger and unwittingly we plant the idea in the mind of our kids that they are messy or that we can not trust them, etc, etc, etc .

Finally I will tell you a story of my second son, when he was in first grade. As his teacher told me the classroom was a mess, dirty and messy. So the teacher attempting to make the kids pick up the mess said to them, ”This is extremely dirty, I don’t want to get invited to your homes when you all grow up because the yard will be very dirty and messy,’ my son very quickly got out of the problem and replied ‘do not worry about me, I’m going to live in an apartment and the apartments do not have yards.’ the teacher was unable to make my son pick up, likely would have been better if she had used the technique ‘Say what your eyes see and then bite your tongue.’

In the second part will talk about how ‘Deal with the events, don’t appraise personality’ can help us to communicate better with our kids.

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