page contents

Communication with Children  

There is a book out, published almost ten years ago, called How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk.  It’s a good book and if you are interested in the subject I can recommend it.  I thought I would write a bit about it here as well.  It is actually a good follow up to the series on children and responsibility because setting good standards for responsibility in your relationship with children helps with the whole arena of communication.

The first thing I will say is perhaps the order of the book’s title should have been switched.  From a parent’s perspective, listening is probably more important than talking and listening well provides the foundation for good communication in general and the effectiveness of parental talking in particular.  This is often difficult for parents because they have a lot of responsibility themselves when it comes to their children.  Responsibility to teach them how to deal with life, correct them when they are on the wrong path, and structure and support them so they have happy lives.  All this responsibility often biases parents toward taking an active stance with their children, a stance which leads them to talk more than listen.

Parents need to keep in mind that children also have the natural tendency to build and assert their own independence.  It is natural and healthy for them to assert themselves as individuals and a part of this often involves pushing against the authorities who have defined their lives the most, their parents.  The key to good communication with kids is to listen to them so they feel understood.  This is a good place to heed Stephen Covey’s habit # 5 of highly effective people; seek first to understand, then to be understood.

Next month we will continue with some ways to listen so kids feel understood.