Communication in relationships is important, and it's a skill that adults struggle with. It can be even more difficult to teach it to your children if you have trouble communicating with your spouse, children, clients or others that you interact with on a regular basis. Kids can learn how to communicate faster and sometimes better than their parents in time, so there is hope. Here's how to teach the importance of this lifelong skill to your kids:
Step 1: Model It for Your Kids
Kids learn best from modeling. It doesn't matter how many times you tell them that communication in relationships is important. They need to see you enforce the idea in your daily life. For example, your kids watch how you communicate your concerns with your spouse or how you don't communicate your concerns. There are times when you don't want to discuss many of your issues in front of your children, but they need to see how you work out some of your issues from time to time. Pick subject matters to discuss in front of them carefully, so that you can have a chance to model the importance of communication to them.
Step 2: Practice Communication Skills with Them
Take the time to practice communication skills with your kids and the importance of doing it in their relationships will become engrained in them. Like adults, some kids don't want to communicate because they don't know how. Treat it like any character based skill that you work on with your kids. For example, if something causes your child to withdraw from you and other family members one day, then you should take the opportunity to practice communicating with them. Give them prompts like "I feel..." or "I was hurt by..." and let them fill in the blanks.
Step 3: Show the Impact of Communication
Try to think of the many ways that communication in relationships has had a good impact on your child's life. Share it with your child so that he can appreciate why it's so important. For example, you can lay out a time when you communicated a business idea to a client, which led to your client's success, which led to more business, which enabled you to pay for your child's music lessons, extracurricular activity or a treasured item. Choose examples that impacted your kids' lives directly to be effective in demonstrating the importance of communication in relationships.
Step 4: Discipline When Necessary
There are times when communication is non-negotiable and children need to know that. It can be a safety or security issue and the only way that some kids will take that seriously is to discipline them. For example, if your child steals an item from a friend, you've got a communication issue in addition to a theft issue to deal with. When you discipline them for stealing, you should also include the communication element. Make it known to him that not communicating what he did is just as serious as stealing, and that you are punishing him for that as well.
Don't expect overnight results when you work on the importance of communication in relationships with your kids. It takes years, and you may not see the fruits of your labor until years down the road.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.