Worst Mistakes When Talking To Our Kids

We want to be the kind of parents who help kids be the best they can be. But sometimes, when we’re talking to them, we make mistakes and the conversations go wrong.

Studio 5 Relationship Coach Dr. Matt Townsend identifies four mistakes we make and how to correct them.

Feeling Guilty For Saying “No”

Learn How To Use The Guilt Free No’s- For some reason using the word “no” with our children is a perplexing problem for some parents. According to a recent study from Parenting Magazine, they found that 76% of parents say they know their kids are spoiled and that same percentage say they feel guilty saying “no” to their child. If we know our children are spoiled, then why would we feel guilty saying no to them once in a while? I believe the guilt comes from the fact that we also end up telling our children “no” on so many other occasions where we could have said “yes”. For example, imagine your 8-year-old son interrupts you while you’re resting on the couch, and invites you to come outside and play catch on your only day off in a month. What do you say? Yes or No? Or how about another child wants to help you make cookies or a cake, and you know whenever they help, that means more clean up work for you? If you’re in a hurry, what do you say? In the end, I believe we need to be more intentional about choosing our Yes’ and our No’s, or we will be unable to tell our children no on the important things in life. Our ability to put our most important things first is an essential skill we should be teaching our children when we are talking with them.

Not Keeping Our Cool During Conflict

Show Them How To Keep Their Cool- No greater gift exists than to show our children how to maintain their cool during difficult conversations. When we show that we can’t keep our cool with our kids, we’re modeling for them behavior that they will try to use against us in the future. If you are tired of your children using tantrums and manipulative fits to get their way, then it’s time to keep your own cool. By showing your children that even moms and dads need to take a time out once in a while, you’re teaching your children one of the most important realities of life. Many married adults continue the reactive patterns of either fighting or running that they learned as a child. These patterns create ineffective conflict resolution patterns for the rest of their life. The need to control our negative emotions, and still being able to come back with love, is a skillset you are never too old to perfect.

Talking About What We Don’t Want, Instead of What We Do Want

Talk About What We Do Want, Not What We Don’t Want- Our language has power. When we think negatively, we feel negative. When we think positively, we feel positive. While discussing the day to day stuff of life with our children, we need to make sure that we spend more time on the positive talk or appreciative side of things than we do the negative talk or the depreciative side of things. For example, instead of telling your child that they “better not leave their room a mess for the rest of the day, like they do every other day, expecting their mom to clean it up.” Maybe it would be better to just straight out tell the child what we want to see happen. “Honey I want that room cleaned up before you leave for school today.” By being clear about what we want, we actually hold up a specific clear example for what we want. Many times we end up building a much clearer picture of what we don’t want from our children, than a healthy view of what we do want. Another example might be, “I would hate to see you involved in an accident where someone is hurt or killed, so don’t mess around in the car when you’re with friends.” Instead we could say, “Hey bud, stay safe, and be smart when you’re with your friends in the car. Buckle up and drive the speed limit! It’s an important job to drive your friends and we are all counting on you to get everyone home safe and sound!” By showing what we want to see instead of what we’re most afraid, we put the positive ideas into the mind of those around us instead of the negative thoughts.

Not Apologizing Or Recovering After an Argument

Research in marriage and family relationships show that the couples that have a consistent approach to recovering from conflicts are usually the healthiest and are less impacted by their arguments. Finding a way to effectively recover after a fight is critical and is a wonderful skill that parents can teach their children. This is a skill that will be essential to helping them to have healthier relationships when they are married. One of the healthiest ways to recover is to simply stay in the same space with the person you have argued with. Keep the communication channels open and continually throw them a “bid” or a positive offering of communication. Apologizing is a great way to do break the ice as well because you then can show that the person and relationship is more important to you than being right. Apologies can also be used even if you feel like you didn’t do anything wrong, but perhaps you’re sorry for the fact that we both raised our voices or we weren’t more clear in the first place. In the end, learning how to recover from disagreements is one of the healthiest skills we can teach our children.

Matt is taking his Smart Relationships class on the road to Davis County in December.
Smart Relationships- Davis County
Thursday, December 13, 2012 at 7pm
at the Davis Applied Technology Center

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