How Do I Talk To My Kids? (And Beyond) Episode 161
How do you talk to your children? Do you talk with them...to them, or at them? Yes, having a connected conversation has some specific protocols - three, to be exact.
How to have a connected conversation...in your home, and beyond.
Special thanks to Jodey Smith for helping me with my new podcast intro!
We all communicate; however, we don't always connect.
We don't always seem to make communication work both ways. Sometimes we're talking at them, over them, or around them...especially with our children.
Do you really listen to your children? Or are you talking all around them? I know I was guilty of talking about my daughter in front of her without engaging her in conversation.
I distinctly remember talking about her to another family member and watching in horror as my then 3-year-old started acting out in really aggressive ways.
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And I remember that ah-ha moment of seeing that my daughter was acting out because, with her personality style especially, my talking about her was a break in trust. She didn't want me to talk like she wasn't in the room, and she noticed. It was an eye-opening moment for me, recognizing that she has just as strong of feelings and emotions as I do, and, just like I wouldn't have appreciated someone talking about my poor behavior to someone else in front of me, neither did she.
Step #1:Invite more than one person to the conversation
A conversation is not a monologue. A conversation is a process of give and take. It's creating space for every person in the conversation to be heard. And that means not only allowing an opportunity for everyone to talk, but also being comfortable with the silence.
We talk on the podcast about how impactful 7 seconds was in my own life, and how powerful it can be here.
7 seconds can create space for a conversation you may have never had.
Step #2: Be Curious
In order to really be educated on a conversation, you must first seek to understand where the other person is coming from. Where are they coming from? Are they trying to win? To prove a point? Just wanting to be heard?
How quickly do we run to defensiveness, justification and more just trying to cement our viewpoint?
Seek to understand where the other person is coming from. What's the point of the conversation...and is this mutually understood?
Conversations are really a practice. You will make mistakes - that's okay. The trick is to continue to practice in recognizing when you do, and having the humility to admit our faults and ask forgiveness.
"When I feel heard, and so do they, I know I'm having a conversation. Otherwise I'm just listening to a lecture." Clara, age 13
Who are you talking for - yourself? Or another?
Step #3: Ask Powerful Questions
Ask the right questions. There are different ways to ask questions...some that will shut you down, and some that will open you up.
Be careful with asking "why". Is this helping or hurting? Is it opening the other person up to simply defend or justify their actions?
Here is the video interview our whole family watched together this week - watch it, and let me know how well you negotiate your kayak:
Some examples of questions that may open up conversation vs. shut them down...
- Instead of "why", use "tell me more"
- And what else?
- What concerns do you have?
- Can you help me understand a bit better?
- How could this (challenge/difficult change) work FOR you?
- What does this (challenge/opportunity) make possible?
- What failures are you using to grow yourself?
- What do you really want? (Caution - with genuine curiosity and earned respect)
- What excites you?
- If you knew you couldn't fail, what would you do?
- What's most important to you?
These are just a few...I have so many more! But here is the beauty of it; when you open up with some of these, your natural curiosity will pique and you'll have your own questions to create!
A Word on Respect
Respect is not a given; it is earned. Respect comes from giving space for all parties to be mutually heard. It comes from knowing yourself well enough to be able to voice what you need, and respecting another to voice it for themselves. We have many, many podcast episodes specifically on respect, but we recognize how valuable this is to have in our homes...not just kids for parents, but parents respecting kids and the brilliant minds they have.
Some additional resources for you
- 7 Seconds will change your communication and connection (Episode 62)
- Mom to Mom with Joanne Miller: The 5 Pillars of Respect (Episode 145)
- How can I get my kids to respect...and like me? (Episode 159)
- What we have here is a failure to communicate!
- What is your goal?
- Discuss, but never argue
- Tension Points That Cause Couples To Argue
- Communication, Connection and Prioritizing – Where is Your Spouse In Your Life?
- Chaos of the Heart – Rawness Equals Connection
- Namaste – On Truly Hearing Each Other (Episode 149)
- How to Nip Parenting Struggles in the Bud (Episode 76)
- Bathtub Boundaries with an Ocean of Love (Episode 15)
- Self-Love, or Self-Sabotage? (Episode 152)
- Parent Styles – Are they helpful or harmful? (Episode 102)
- How do I equip my kid to “adult”? (Episode 89)
- Learn more about DISC Personality Styles
Your Weekly Challenge:
If you want a connected conversation, start within first. Look at who you really are, and who you want to be.
Then, look beyond to your loved ones, and take into account these three steps - creating space for each person to be heard, truly seeking to understand them, and asking the questions that guides the conversation to a positive solution and/or everyone feeling heard.
Be curious about your children and beyond. A connected conversation leaves everyone in it feeling heard. The most important thing we can do is learn to have this conversation with our children. The more we work toward being naturally curious about someone and first, seeking to understand, the more it becomes real to us, and becomes our new habit. It rewires our brain to work in a new way, and opens the door for us to really find connection by first seeking to understand. And in that journey, we can truly see how the uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us.