As we all know, communication is essential in any relationship. It is crucial in our relationships with our children because we are teaching them and paving the way for their entire communication style, expectation and participation throughout their lives. What we model and teach them in this area can be very powerful for them. Below are three tips to play with, as you evaluate your communication skills and success in your own family. Have fun with this. Be gentle with yourself. Parenting is a school. We are all learning.
Tip #1: Rapport. Definition: “… harmony.” When you are in rapport with another person, you are aligned and feeling a connection. You are comfortable and generally enjoy the company of that person. We have all experienced those moments when we have no idea why we love a complete stranger, but we do! It is the experience of rapport. As you build rapport (harmony and feeling connected), trust is created. From the place of trust, you create responsiveness. Would you like to have this with your kids?
As you communicate with your children over the next several days, notice whether or not they are being “responsive.” Are they listening? Are they open? Are they shrugging you off, or taking in what you are saying? This will give you an idea of whether or not you are in rapport. When they are speaking, give them your full attention and eye contact. This will create rapport. It will also model for them how to be with others. If your kids are little, sitting on the floor with them makes a huge difference as well.
Tip #2: It is not about the words. Did you know that 93% of communication is non-verbal? 93%! Words are only 7% of communication. That is why eye contact is so important, and why sitting on the floor is effective. With your body, you are saying, “I am with you. I care.” Your body language is 55% of communication! What are you saying to your kids? Be aware of your body language. What are they saying to you? Notice their body language.
The remaining 38% is tonality. Your kids will be sensitive to your tone, and will respond in kind. Be aware of the messages you are sending in your tone. And, listen to their tone. It may give you some insights when you are looking for answers.
Tip #3: Listening. Many of us can multi-task incredibly well. However, when it comes to having a conversation with another person, I think we can all agree that there is nothing like receiving eye contact and full attention when you are speaking. If I am doing the dishes, and my body is facing the sink, my attention is on the dishes. I can say I am listening, and I can “hear” the person, but am I really taking it in? Am I really present? Am I communicating to them that what they are saying is important to me? As difficult as it seems in our fast-paced world, it is important to take the time to listen to our kids with presence. We are teaching them. We are modeling. The quality of how we show up with our children will impact their self-esteem and their ability to show up with other people. Begin to observe yourself and evaluate what messages you are sending to your kids, without even realizing it. Awareness is the first key to success!
Incorporating these habits may take a little more time initially. However, practicing with your kids will change your relationship and their future. It is worth the effort. I suggest making it fun, and letting them know what you are doing (if they are old enough to understand). Turn it into a game!