How to Talk to Your Kids

I feel that we live in a society where bullying is the norm, among adults, at home, at school and especially in the workplace.

Now, everyone gets away with it except the kids.

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Healthy Communication

I’d like to help you open the doors for really great communication with your kids.

One day my four year old said to me “you are trying to make me feel guilty and I don’t like it”.

It was true and I was busted. I had to be prepared to take correction from a 4 year old, and apologize and change myself. This is what the relationship required. Adults need to be trustworthy. Kids need to feel safe. They need to know that we cannot be undone by anything that comes out of their mouths. They need to know that we are willing to listen to them and care about their thoughts, experiences and feelings.

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The Four Cornerstones

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The four cornerstones of healthy relationships are: Trust, Respect, Honesty and Commitment. With the proper intention and the cornerstones in place, communication can open up about cool stuff like society, psychology, justice, responsibility, human potential,…..all the juicy bits about life and living. I also get to voyeur into a generational experience that I don’t inhabit. This is such a blessing.

I would view a notice from the school about behavior as an opportunity for us to open up dialogue at home about what was going on in the concrete jungle from the child’s point of view. Lots of listening and sharing. I would share what I felt was the moral high bar for humans in a very personal way.

As long as there was no talking at, or talking down, pulling rank or sacred cow freak-outs, we were blessed with an opportunity to engage and learn. As long as we were willing to really listen, we would come out the other side of any misunderstanding or conflict swimmingly.

School and the behavior of staff were not exempt from scrutiny either. Teachers are real people. Sorry to say, sometimes people’s behavior is unacceptable. We are all human and infallible. Judgement is easy, but understanding and forgiveness takes real work. Children are surprisingly kind and wise. Given enough information, they can develop discernment. The challenges today are the opportunity for lessons for life.

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There may be a whole discussion about why people bully: Are they acting out of fear? Are they controlling? Do they feel that they don’t have enough? Even though they are in a position of authority, are they afraid of you? Are they afraid of kids? Could their lives be out of control at this time?

Ask questions such as: How do you feel? Do you think that you may somehow invite this behavior? Can you handle what is going in? Are you afraid? Are you feeling powerless? How would you feel if I stepped in?

So….. The ensuing discussion may be around survival skills when adults are not behaving well, and allowing and forgiving them their humanness. Sometimes the discussion would be about helping the child feel safe in the company of others who were trespassing boundaries. Sometimes it would be about choosing the right thing to do, and having to apologize to others.

Regardless of what sparked the conversation it became the opportunity to dialogue with my kids. They are just trying to figure it all out. I was and still am committed to helping them do that to the best of my ability. I had to start by being honest – with myself and them.

The High Five

[Tweet “Any conversation starts with the ‘high five”]

Any conversation (then and now) starts and includes the ‘high five’. Sort of goes like this: “I may not know what is going on in your situation, but this is what I know about you.” Up goes the fingers and I start to name virtues and strengths in character in the child. i.e.: you are perceptive, you are loyal, you are forgiving, you are intelligent, you have emotional intelligence, you persevere.

I may also add a comment about a where there is a need to recognize an aspect of character that needs to soften or grow. (Mostly the conversation was about heavy judgement of others; only seeing things in black and white, where there was a need to see the gray area).

Talking things through was the house policy. I remember my daughter telling one of her sleepover guests “You had better not do that or my mom is going to talk to you for a long time”.

House Rules

House rules were set collectively and we all had to abide by them. One of these rules was ‘No one deserves to worry’. No matter who is ‘out’, the person left at home deserves a phone call. There were consequences (my daughter and I were both grounded in the same week). The purpose of house rules was consideration and team building.

Pick Battles Carefully

Unless I had a concern about morals or safety, I left it alone. Hairstyles were not worth fighting about. “Yes it is green and no I don’t have a problem with it”.

I have a policy to not take anything away from anyone by stepping in inappropriately. If I need to get out of the way and let them handle, I do that. I am still beside them; at the principal’s office, police station, courthouse…whatever. There are times for tender love and times for tough love.

Kids have to know some basic intrinsic things. They are unquestioningly lovable and forgivable and I will stand in the gap for them. Period.

This may seem easy when you have young children. Do you think this will work for your teens?

I’d love to hear about what communication tips work in your home.

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Bio PicNelda McEwen has been practicing as a Medical Intuitive in SW Ontario for over 25 years; counselling individuals and families, as well as offering her signature ICH training to other Medical Intuitives in the health field. Nelda’s professional research has been acknowledged and published in the Professional Kinesiology Practitioners Manual. The PKP program is recognized through the International Kinesiology College of Zurich Switzerland.