MSP Dr. Paras shares 8 ways to bridge the communication gap between parents and children. Read on for more information.
A communication gap between parents and children often leads to many hiccups in the parenting journey. The lockdown and the pandemic has increased stress levels for families who are almost stepping onto each other's toes at the moment resulting in chaos at home.
What are the methods to bridge the communication gap in a family? How does one handle the causes of the generation gap between parents and child? How do parents raise their children while handling different temperaments during their growing up years?
We’ll find out with a Mental Strength Professional - Dr. Paras.
MSP Dr. Paras recently conducted a session on parenting and the need to build effective communication with a child. Based on queries received by the Mental Strength Professional team, Dr. Paras shares 8 ways to build communication with children.
1. Parenting Children with a Large Age Difference
Building an effective communication with children is necessary if you particularly have 2 or more children with a large age gap. Firstly, there is the issue of the generation gap between the parent and child, besides you also have to deal with the gap between these siblings.
In the early days, a gap of 2-3 years was considered normal. Today, there are wider age gaps for different reasons. Therefore, parents may often face challenges while trying to maintain their energy levels and adapting to needs of both children who have completely different requirements.
One child may be a toddler and the other may be preparing for an important exam.
This makes it even more important to improve the communication gap between parents and child.
Children learn more from what you are than what you teach.
a. Help the elder sibling to develop understanding and deeper patience. This is necessary as having a sibling who is much younger and is yet to develop the language or cognitive skills may pose a problem for the older child.
The elder child should never be made to feel like a ‘responsible parent’. Remember, you need to display the same levels of patience for your child to emulate. So, be the person you wish your children to look up to and stay inspired.
For example - the elder child may want to throw a party but the younger one may get frightened with all the noise.
b. Work with the older children to help them understand what’s appropriate, lay down family contracts, set some rules. However, avoid mollycoddling the younger one too much - be fair with your rules.
Sibling squabbles will be a part of your life so setting down family etiquette will work in the long run! Plan activities wherein both receive ample attention and get their own space.
2. Communicating about Physical Changes
Well, this is an awkward phase for children, but you needn’t be awkward about it! As parents, you need to widen your own horizon first, to be able to focus on effective communication with the child. By the time children reach 8 years, they are already aware of their physical changes as well as emotional changes.
However, the media may define body types that outline what is good or bad. This creates a wrong impression on the young minds.
For example, parents need to emphasize that every body type is beautiful. Discuss with your daughter and son about their bodies - be relaxed in your approach.
Key points to consider:
a. Ask them what they know from their sources? How much knowledge do they have?
b. Share the true facts where needed. Avoid “correcting” them. Use a friendly approach.
c. Avoid forcing them to share information. Give them some space where needed.
For example, speak about the menstruation cycle to your children.
Remind them that every child goes through physical changes at different times. Use the right names for the body parts - avoid addressing it as something shameful. You can say, “It’s normal to get pubic hair around 11 years but some may get it later as well. It’s ok.” Effective communication with children clears any doubts they have about their bodies and do not know whom to approach.
For example, girls may worry about acne, boys may not understand the changes in their voice, and the sudden appearance of facial hair. Opening up the conversation will help them resolve questions as well.
A boy may worry, “Why don’t I have hair growth on my face but my friend does?”
A girl may worry about, “I haven’t gotten my period yet, but she did get hers.”
Ensure you show you are available to talk to bridge the communication gap between parents and child. You’ll deepen the trust with your child!
3. Addressing curiosity, inquisitivity in children
The tricky part about communication with children is the approach needed to address the curiosity of a growing-up child. Children are growing up, witness things around them, and tend to form opinions when ideas are enforced upon them.
Most importantly, children are exposed to information related to sex in different formats online as well as the different media platforms. What does this mean for you?
You need to open the topic to initiate effective communication with the child. Discuss it as they approach puberty and develop high levels of curiosity about their body, needs, and sexual urges.
For example: Parents need to discuss the menstruation cycle with boys as well as girls a little before they turn 12. Although children may receive education in school, it’s important to address it early as children tend to feel insecure about the changes.
Parents may even need to discuss the process of sexual intercourse in brief, safety methods, sexually transmitted diseases, and the process of birth in a simple manner using a calm and composed style. As much as a girl needs to learn about periods, a boy must know about erections and ejaculations.
Kids are exposed to crude jokes and the information they receive may often be from unreliable resources.
Communication with kids is needed to discuss ejaculations for example, while explaining how normal the process is.
You may not need to break it down in complete detail but the idea is to show you are open for communication and they can approach you anytime rather than reading from unknown sources. There would be a time when they begin dating early on and being equipped with the right knowledge with respect for all genders as well as consent, is important.
The effects of a generation gap between parents and children can be unfavorable if not addressed early on.
4. Educating kids about family values
We have different cultures and values that vary in different parts of the world.
Why are family values important? These are values children will learn and carry forward with them in life. Values such as being honest, empathetic, loving, responsible, and more will shape them into greater adults.
For example, a family may be conscious of co-existing with nature and will nurture values of being responsible towards the planet.
Effective communication with a child is necessary to ingrain these values. Remember, you need to practice these values as well!
Children imitate what their parents do so if you find your child annoying, maybe it’s time you took a look at yourself too!
For example, someone may scream at you in a queue but you respond back politely. You can say, “See, I could have responded in the same manner, but I decided to be calm and think before responding.”
Key points to consider:
Make a list of your values and what you’d like to share with your children.
5. Be observant of your own relationships
It’s time to relook at your own relationships. Children are like sponges, they absorb everything. Yes, even the negative behaviors you are displaying as a couple. Families need to be aware of their own relationships to inculcate the right values.
Key points to consider:
6. Acknowledge your child’s presence
A lot of parents often discount their children particularly when they are growing up. This adds to the communication gap in the family. You must be sensitive towards a growing up child’s development. By constantly driving messages that dictate, you may often raise a child who is meek, lacks confidence about his own capabilities. Why is this important?
When it comes to communication with children, trust the intelligence of the child, give them tasks to help them understand their strengths, Don’t undermine them, especially in front of family members, at parties, and gatherings.
Key points to consider:
Show trust to gain trust.
Make a move from just giving commands to sharing your point of view. Your communication with kids will be smooth if you create an equal and respectful space.
Have a communication gap in the family? Contact us, now!
7. Do not load your career expectations on children
A lot of you may have unfulfilled dreams. These dreams were those you thought of fondly as a child. Not everyone got a chance to complete them.
Many may think, “My little munchkin will grow up to be the ballet dancer that I wanted to be!”
Stop, right here. Thoughts such as these increase the communication gap in the family.
Making your expectations a reality through your child is about creating intense pressure on their lives. Children may often grow up not knowing what they want to do. By constantly demanding they choose a profession, partner, hobby, or even a clothing item as per your choice, you push them away in a space where they can no longer relate to you.
Key points to consider:
Give them the space they need, allow them to grow. Let them discover their own talents, passion, goals, and the purpose of life.
8. Be open to different sexual orientations
This is a sensitive subject and effective communication with children will improve your relationships. A lot of children grow up confused, not being able to understand why they are labelled as different because they display behavior or choices that are not considered ‘normal’. While the society may dictate the conditions of an ideal family, remember to accept your child for who they are.
A child having different sexual orientation may be subjected to harassment in school, or bullied for being different.
Key Points To Consider:
You need to embrace your child to nurture them in a loving space to raise confident adults. Talk to them, help them share their joys and sorrows. Remind them you are there for them.
Parenting is an enjoyable journey wherein you are growing with each step. Sometimes, you may need guidance and that’s ok! Remember, you can always contact me to bridge the communication gap between parents and children. My team of Mental Strength Professionals make the task a little easy for you!
We thank those who have trusted us to iron out the creases in their families and relationships. To know methods to build effective communication with your child, write to [email protected]. #LetsTalk