According to the Huff post article, How to Be a Parent Your Child Wants To Talk To, By Erin Leonard (05/25/2018),
the most common complaint of parenting is, “my child never talks to me!” If you are a parent of an early teen or college student, even a millennial, don’t be alarmed, we understand.
Even if you are the “Parent of the Year”, it can be grueling to communicate with your loving child at times. Previous research states the predictive indicator of a child’s emotional balance is the closeness of the parent/child relations. If your child is not communicating to you when there is a situation, there is clearly a gap in the relationship. In other words, your perception of the relationship is different then the child’s. The question is why does my child feel shut out? How did I contribute to this? You ever run to the rescue of a toddler that scraped a knee and they snatch back away from you? It’s kind of like that, children empirically prefer
Empathy vs. Sympathy
According to Huff post in the article, How to Be a Parent Your Child Wants To Talk To, By Erin Leonard (05/25/2018),
there are 2 habits parents use that make our children feel isolated and alone.
I am compelled to say we really have to be a lifeline to our children in distressing times. Whenever they are frustrated, angry, disappointed, and/or struggling, our children have a fundamental need to be understood. When they open up to communicate to us, we should be making them feel better not worse.
You shouldn’t feel that way
Don’t be disappointed
Don’t feel that way
Why are you mad?
I understand and share your similar life stories with them, in fact, be empathetic.
Cry with them, visibly feel what they are feeling and let them know it is wrong
Empathy works better. For instance you could say:
That’s an issue
You are upset, I would be too.
I know why you are disappointed, I would be too.
If you are mad, I know you have good reason to be…
Children at every age connect with you the parent, once you empathize with them and usually they feel immediately better.
You can then begin to solve the problem together. Simply knowing you, the parent understands and supports them, gives the strength to press ahead and to become adept problem-solvers. Remember, being empathetic does not endorse unacceptable behavior. In the following article, one parent mentioned this story:
Their son arrived home and threw his coat on the floor. I said, “You are mad. I don’t know why, but you probably have a very good reason, and I want to hear about it, but you can’t throw your coat. Go pick it up.” He went and got his coat off of the floor and explained and told me he was upset about a fight he had with a friend.
It worked and yes empathy does win! The empathy first method works at every age and every stage!
In the long run, here are 5 simple steps to help your child understand you better, after empathizing:
1. Keep communication open, address them by name and at their level
2. Speak slowly and simply
3. Live in the now- be relevant, be real
4. Silence background noise and distractions, focus on them and the issue a hand
5. Leave space in the conversation for feedback, questions and further elaboration
Thank you for reading. For more information, see our blogposts. We look forward to bringing parents’ more tips on raising Rock stars!