“Skip the language that creates misunderstandings. Talk it out the right way.”
Do you ever say something and it sort of takes the wrong meaning or you say something that doesn’t come out the right way or it doesn’t have the desired effect?
All sorts of things can stem from the wrong communication – disrespect, hurt feelings, isolation, disconnection. When you have a disconnection from someone, it can create distance between you. It can lead to secrecy or arguments. That’s when the cracks start appearing in family life. Listen, in life in general, let’s face it, sometimes we say things the wrong way, even though we don’t mean it and then it just leads to hurt and upset.
So let’s see how we can start changing things and how we can change our language for the better – so that we are not having these misunderstandings in the first place.
Avoid using absolutes : such as Always, Never, Everyone – they’re fine when they’re true but when thrown about ad lib, they can be very damaging. When we tend to use universals and absolutes, we tend to distort things. It come across as very accusatory. Universals, tend to polarise your comments very quickly and they lead to misinterpretation.
We have to remember how to use language to the best of our ability. For example : our unconscious mind does not process negatives. It just doesn’t work that way because our mind does not do negatives. (Don’t think of a Pink Elephant … catch my drift?) So we have to pay attention to the way we use language. It’s a matter of what you’re putting on your child’s radar.
Use language in a better way – rather than shouting to get your point across – reframe the language. When someone is on send and not receive, communication breaks down. Try as best you can to seek positive reinforcement. Look for the positive and reframe it. Rather than “This place it a tip! You’re always so messy!” Why not try “Come on, let’s see if you can tidy up by the time I have the table set!” Taking off the pressure and making stuff fun can really calm things down.
Avoid comparisons – when we are being compared to others, it can make us feel not as good – “less than”. Avoid trying to compare. It’s a bit like giving your child a label. Personally, I always felt average because I never received any ‘significant labels’; whereas my brother was The Sporty One and The brainy One. Kids who are labelled as ‘sporty’ might therefore not try anything musical. So avoid labels because they are so detrimental to your children’s growth and upbringing.
State your expectations when you are communicating – if we don’t set our expectations this leads others being able to make their own interpretations; and invariably is never going to be the same. Stating your expectations specifically avoids ambiguity. “Be home my the morning” is not as specific as “Please be home by 11 o’clock as Granny is coming for lunch and I need you to help get ready.”
Replace “but” with “and” – when you say but, it negates the whole previous part of the sentence. “I appreciate what you say, but I still want you to clean your room” – basically says to your child – I don’t care about your opinion.
Threats aren’t too good – parenting shouldn’t really be about control. Whatever age, it should be about managing expectations, boundaries and guidance. Avoid threats that you cannot carry through with; because you quickly lose ground. Threats are also like punishments. They build resentment and anger. When your child get cross and angry at you then the message and lesson is already lost. Invariably what happens is you’ve lost the middle ground. You’ve lost any bargaining power.
That’s why managing your expectations and talking about them earlier works so much better – so that you don’t have to deal with confrontations. So the language that you use does have a huge impact on how things turn out.
If your child has got a problem, it’s all too easy to jump in and try and sort it for them. We tend to try and make everything better; but if we want them to grow into fully functioning young adults – then they learn so much more if they try and figure stuff out themselves. By letting them work stuff out for themselves – they learn to build resilience, build decision making. With us standing by if they need us – they start to shape their emotional intelligence.
Parenting is all about leading our children through the choppy waters of childhood and adolescence – whilst we guide them – rather than delivering rules and our diktats. It’s a different world than the one we experienced growing up and it’s important that our kids learn to navigate it with our support but also with their own judgment and experiences. It equips them a hell of a lot better to deal with today’s fast paced world.
As always – please drop any questions in the COMMENTS box below.
I have a video series on YouTube : All about Communicating Better with your Teenager.
Have a look here for the THIRD episode on Listening Skills : CLICK this link or the image below
If you want to keep this conversation going – why not come and join my facebook group : PARENTS : Teen Toolbox ™️.
It’s full of like-minded parents wanting the best for their kids.
Supporting Parents Build a Mentally Healthier and
Happier Generation of Young People