Take time to talk and listen to your children. At some point in your life you have probably felt that the person you were talking to was not listening or worse, simply was not interested. If you have been there, don't do the same thing to your children.
Seven Pointers To Keep An Open Dialogue Between Parent and Child:
- Understand that it is up to the parent to create a positive listening environment. Do not be too busy to stop and listen when your child says "Mommy guess what?" Take time to listen. If your teen says, "I need to talk to you", it is definitely worth taking 5 minutes, no matter how busy you are. Take some time to find out what the subject is, it may command your immediate attention. If it does not, let your child know when you will be available to listen and discuss his or her problem. It should be that same day. It will be up to you to remember, your child may not bring up the issue again.
- Put your toddler in a chair next to your when having conversation with him or her. Making eye contact is important.
- When having a conversation with your child, whether he is 4 years old or 14 years old, treat him with courtesy and respect. Don't ridicule him if you don't agree with an idea. Don't talk down to him.
- It may be difficult, but you must learn how to be open enough to talk about anything with your child. That includes drugs and sex. When you become an empty-nester you will probably smile at the memory.
- Make it a habit to watch the news with your children. Ask their opinion--they may surprise you.
- If your teen or younger child rushes in with news that he or she feels is exciting. Show some enthusiasm. If you don't 'get it', ask for more information.
- Keep in mind that a child may look elsewhere for answers when parents are unavailable or appear to be disinterested in what he or she has to say.