Today, we are going to do something that may seem a little out of the ordinary, but stick with me until the end. It’s a very deep post that will leave you pondering and thinking for quite awhile. We are going to first look at the communication mistakes that we are making with our children. Once we’ve looked at that in depth, we can begin to talk about the SOLUTIONS, and how to turn them into SUCCESS and beautiful memories for a lifetime. Are you ready? Let’s do this!
Communication Mistakes that we make with our kids (and how to fix them too!)
As you all know (or can probably tell), I am a very visual person so almost every blog post to this point has a scenario for you to envision and walk yourself through. I do this because I feel that sometimes while reading, we can get distracted and lose track of what where our thoughts go after we read an article, website, or blog post. By creating a scenario to share more about the topic I am writing on, I can give you a visual picture to remember later – long after the blog post is closed. The natural born teacher in me does this to help you learn/grow in the area that is being discussed. If you are able to digest the information long after you’ve read about it, it will stick with you.
Imagine this. . .
Your boss calls you into his office for a meeting. As you walk in, he closes the door. Your mind instantly says, “Oh no, this must be serious if the door is being closed.” As he begins to speak, you make sure to make direct eye contact with him to ensure that your mind does not get distracted.
And slowly your mind drifts off. . . Why is he wearing THAT. . . What the heck does that cup say on his desk. . . or the way he is tapping his fingers, so annoyingly, on his desk. “Just get to it already,” you quietly think to yourself, “this is SOOO not interesting at all, and I have THINGS to get DONE!”
Sometimes as parents, we are always in a hurry.
This story is very similar to the time
that we spend talking with our children.
Distracted & unfocused.
Our very own children. . . our flesh and blood. . . the ones we tried month after month for so long to conceive. . .
Let that sink in for a minute. . .
We are all guilty – trust me, you are not alone!
Maybe we are driving to the store with a million thoughts in our mind about what we need to get, or hurriedly running into the house to make dinner.
Maybe we are having a horrible morning because everyone woke up late; and we are simply doing our best to just get everyone fed, clothed, and watered. (Well, they aren’t dogs, but sometimes when we are stressed out – that’s how it feels: very routine and demanding, right?)
Gals, Listen Up, this is so critical!!!
This is something that we have to find ways to fix in our own homes!! We need to talk with our children and give them the nurturing that they so deeply desire. (Trust me, even if they act like they don’t want to talk. . . once they get past that awkward first chat – they will open up and it will be beautiful!) If we do not help instill a love of communication and conversation with our children, who will? The schools? NO WAY! Don’t get me wrong, they do their best! However, the gosh darn government has put so much on the teacher’s plates these days. Our society will be completely different by the time our children become adults.'The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when someone asked what I thought, and attended to my answer.' - Henry David ThoreauClick To Tweet
It is our job to teach our children how to communicate!
Let’s go back to that scenario in the bosses office for a moment. . . Imagine that your boss begins to ask you questions about the information that he has just shared with you, and you look back at him with a blank stare. After all, you did get distracted by the things that were in front of you. How would that go over?
Maybe you weren’t listening because you were distracted. . .
Maybe you got distracted because you didn’t care. . .
Or maybe you got distracted because you didn’t listen with the intent to communicate back and forth about the topic…
How would that look? Would you look like an employee that cared at all? What would that communicate to your boss about the level of work that you do and are willing to do?
Is this what we want our kids to think and feel? That we were distracted? That we didn’t care about what they were talking about? That we didn’t intend to communicate? Or that we even care at all about them as a human being?
I know. . . I am getting deep here. But it’s so critical to grasp and understand so that we can make the change that is needed. I know that you do not want your child to feel that way, or heck, even your spouse. Without bringing attention to the very problem, we can never begin to look at the solution. Right? If we don’t stop these communication problems quickly, we may not ever take that step. . . Let’s change our homes, Ladies! Who’s with me?
Seven possible communication problems:
- Too busy doing something else
- Conversation was started while you were deep in thought
- Engrossed in whatever is happening on your phone
- Working too much
- Surface talk rather than REAL talk
- Yelling at them rather than talking to them
- Schedules are filled to the brim with activities
Gals, remember, we are all human and I make these same mistakes. Again, this is all about identifying these things that we do so that we can address them and fix the areas that are broken. However, if these sound familiar to you. . . Let’s change that!
Actions speak louder than words. . .
By not being mindful of how we communicate with our children, we are modeling that it is okay for them to do the same in their own lives. Have you ever sat with a friend over coffee and attempted to talk to them about something important to them? Have you had that same friend completely be distracted and not showing any type of care in the world about what you were talking about?
Do we want them to do this to their teachers? To their future bosses? Heck, even to us? Absolutely not!
Finding the solutions is easy, but it takes work on our part. Let’s dig in!
MISTAKE #1 – Too busy doing something else.
Solution: Carve out time in your day to sit and talk one on one with each child, and ensure that they have your full attention. This means putting down absolutely everything that may distract you and make eye contact to let them know that they have your undivided attention. The hard question is a real one… is what you are doing more important than pausing to have an intentional conversation with your child, right now? (Ouch, stepped on my own toes with that one! See. . . I told you, you are not alone when I write. These blog posts speak to me as well.)
MISTAKE #2 – Conversation was started while you were deep in thought.
Solution: For many years, I have struggled with this immensely, so I know you gals have too. With having four kids, one of them needs me all the time and that’s okay. As a Mom, isn’t that our job? Two ways to deal with this are to make a choice to become mindful of this habit within yourself and make a purposeful decision to either 1) stop what you are doing and interact with whatever their needs are at that time, or 2) tell your child, “Mommy is doing something very important right now that she can’t stop, so give me two minutes and you can have my full attention.”
This teaches a very POWERFUL life skill to them, so I typically opt for the latter of the two. After all, in a real life situation as an adult, will we realistically always be able to stop and communicate at the very moment someone needs us? Not only that but it teaches them patience and mindfulness of others as well.
MISTAKE #3 – Engrossed in whatever is happening on your phone or the TV.
Solution: As a stressed out mother, sometimes we just need time to let our brains relax without any thoughts or demands. TOTALLY FEEL YA! My usual way of doing that is scrolling through Instagram or Pinterest. But again, is that more important than the communication and conversation that your child is longing to have with you? Nope.
The way that you can easily handle this is to tell your kids before you take that brain break… “Mommy is feeling really overwhelmed right now and needs about ten to fifteen minutes (you choose the timeframe that works for you personally) to just relax and breathe, honey. I am going to go sit down in the bedroom (or on the couch) and we can talk in just a second.” By taking your brain break time into the bedroom, however, it makes you “out of sight, out of mind” for that time and you will see less interruptions.
NOW… the crucial thing here is not to forget! This is so very important when you are doing something like this, as if you forget… what does that tell them? That they aren’t important… and I know that is not your intention at all. Another solution to this problem would be to be 100% available while your kids are awake and as soon as they hit their pillows… that is “Mommy time.” I challenge you to really dig deep and see which of those three things would work best for your home and family.
MISTAKE #4 – Working too much.
Solution: The demands of our jobs and schedules are so crazy real in today’s society with deadlines everywhere we look. There will also be times that a deadline just cannot be met without working late at the office or working from home. Be upfront and honest with your children about what is happening, and communicate with them. If you speak to them about life routinely, they will understand and be willing to help out. This becomes a problem though when it is day in and day out, and it is all they see Mommy doing.
This is where I really use my planning structure to the fullest. I plan my days backward so that I can get the very heavy tasks that require focus and uninterrupted time done while they are at school or asleep. Really take a good look at your planner or schedule to find times that you could make changes to allow you to work less while they are awake and needing Mommy.
MISTAKE #5 – Engaging in surface talk rather than REAL talk.
Solution: When this happens, I get so irritated with myself and I’m sure you do too. If our mind is cluttered and swirling with thoughts, how in the world can we focus on what they are saying? Ask them to give you five minutes to write down all your thoughts, do a quick brain dump (don’t know how: check out this post) and then have them come sit to talk with you. One thing that helps fix a lot of communication mistakes that we make regarding surface talk is when we do not validate or empathize with what they are talking about.
My son is a very big tech guy, and shares a lot of his recent findings with me. It is very easy to listen and say, “uh huh. yep” but that does not show ANY interest in what he is talking about and it took me awhile to realize I was doing that. Now, I ask questions to clarify what he is sharing OR I tell him, “Can you put that in Mommy terms for me so I can understand?” It has helped tremendously!
REAL talk is a hard thing to get your kids used to if you have not done that from the beginning. Trust me, there is a good possibility that they will struggle to open up at first. Keep digging with very curious questions. Things such as “How did that feel when you won that award?” Or maybe, “When your friend was being mean to you, what did your heart feel?” Be curious about their life and truly listen, interact and converse with them – it will bring you so much joy!
MISTAKE #6 – Yelling at them rather than talking to them.
Solution: When you are stressed and frustrated, do you talk to your children or do you yell? If you were at work and your boss was upset with you, would it be more effective if he or she yelled at you with demands and frustrations OR talked with you about the situation? Which do you want to be for your child?
We are Moms. We are busy Moms. We have bad days. This doesn’t mean that anything is wrong; it means that you are real. However, I really challenge you to dig deep and think about which “reaction” would bring about better results. Along the same lines, what behaviors do you want to model and lay a foundation for within your children and your home?
We are getting now where when we yell, Ladies. We are teaching our children that anger and yelling are how to deal with frustrations in life.
Let’s look at a scenario where you are wanting to have your kids clean up their mess and they are giving you some push back. We can either yell and demand it gets done with threats, or we can ask curious questions to teach them real-life problem-solving. My “go to” questions during this battle with my girls are:
- “Did Mommy make the mess or did you girls make the mess?” Allow them to answer so that they can grasp the rest of the conversation, and then follow it up with this: “Who’s job is it to clean up that mess?”
- Offer them two choices that you are completely fine with (notice I didn’t say a choose between two threats of punishment here). It may sound something like this, “Would you like to clean up the mess that you made now or in five minutes?” This is a strategy that is based on the Love and Logic Principles and works wonderfully. They may test you at first, but two choices truly work like magic because it offers them shared control of the situation.
MISTAKE #7 – Schedules are filled to the brim with activities.
Solution: I allow my children to chose one activity at a time, so this may be music lessons or dance lessons. But they may not pick music lessons AND basketball. (I’m such a mean Mom, right? Hang tight on this, and really think about this…) Family time is important to me and I want to teach my children the same. If we do not instill this at a very young age, they will grow to rely on the “busyness” and slowly, the family time will be gone. Instead schedule time IN for your family!
Some of my fondest memories with my children are sitting out on the back porch, late into the night, just communicating, talking, sharing stories or maybe playing cards. I would not trade those moments for anything and through those times, we have grown so close! Personally, I do not want my kids to desire to “hang out” at other friends houses to get that adult nurturing and interaction. I want my children to get that from me and our home.
Your planner is filled to the brim with activities. Is your family time important enough to schedule time in? Make it an appointment in your calendar and stick to it.
In case you need ideas, some of our favorite things to do are:
- play cards
- movie night Friday’s
- draw together
- Tackle Wars (yes, yes, we have those)
- and this Mom’s absolute favorite. . . just sit and talk.
Which communication mistake will you work to fix this week?
The last step is the hardest. . . it requires you to take action. I cannot do it for you, but absolutely wish I could. Simply find one of these communication mistakes that really hit home and work on ways to create a solution this week. Baby steps. . . think baby steps. You can’t eat the whole elephant at once, right? Which will you choose? You’ve got this girl, now go get started!!!
PS. . . I would love for you to reply and share your heart with me. Which of these really stuck out to you, and what is your reason for wanting to work on it? Or what is your biggest struggle in talking with your children? I am here to help, and you are NEVER a bother!!! I love hearing from you Gals!
If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also enjoy checking these resources about this very topic as well: