Guest Author - Paula Petrie
Hearing your childís perspective is a wonderful gift that brings treasured and delightful insights. But, talking (and listening) are things that we do so often we rarely think of them as skills.
During the day we talk with our husbands, our toddlers, our teens, the man from the power company, for example, and each conversation is with a different style of communicating. In fact, talking or communicating is a skill used so regularly that it is taken for granted. But, treating this gift with so little respect can lead to big trouble.
I believe misunderstanding feelings or ideas, is the number one reason that spouses argue. When we donít clearly state our own points of view it leaves room for misinterpretation, or for others to assume the meaning. Expectations can end up not being met. Family members can feel let down and frustrated because of misunderstandings, which can lead to arguments.
When poor communication leads to disagreements, the disagreements should be straightened out right away. And a good place to start is asking the other person to repeat what they said, and meant. Then you can better explain what you were trying to communicate, as well.
Has your child or spouse ever left a "key" word or two out of a sentence when trying to express an idea or relate a story, leaving you wondering what they are talking about? Because we take dialogue for granted, we often donĎt say clearly what we "see" in our minds. And we often donít say, or detail, what we think we have. Have you ever had someone tell you what you thought you said was in fact not what you said at all?
Conveying feelings, ideas, or directions, often becomes confused or misunderstood. Have you ever had your child repeat something that you said to him, when in fact what you intended he understand was something entirely different?
Children are apt to make assumptions about what they hear, or the impression that they get, so it is important to plainly communicate your thoughts to them. Have you ever given a child directions to bring you an item only to have them totally lost when they try to find it?
Assuming we understand what has been said or shown to us, brings our own feelings and (sometimes limited) perspective into clarifying the meaning. Have you ever had your spouse or child quote you in reference to "your" opinion that you donít actually hold?
Children believe parents to be "all comprehending," so they get easily hurt by their own, or a parent's assumption. For example, you could assume that your shy son may not want you to offer verbal encouragement, and he may assume that you aren't interested in his accomplishments. Ask clarifying questions and encourage children to do the same.
Not learning how to communicate his feelings can bring about a poor self-image, or sleep/eating issues in a child. Ask what is bothering him and if there is anything you can do to help. Children feel more confident and safe when they believe someone is trying to understand them.
Kids and spouses need to trust that their feeling and opinions are respected by you. Try to see every situation from the other personís point of view. Everyone wants respect, and to have their opinions understood. If youíve made an incorrect assumption about anotherís feelings, that person could react in a very emotional way.
Children are notorious for tirades when their feelings are being ignored, although some personalities may withdraw and start hiding their feelings. And mother's want to avoid all that.