At a loss as to how to understand that new kid that appears to be that same little person you gave birth to on the exterior but internally has become some little alien creature with a language you have yet to master? It’s all too easy to blink and find that our kids have become miniature adults in tween and teen bodies with word usage that may have you shaking your head more often than not. Here are some tried and true methods that may assist you in keeping communication open with your kids through the tween and teen years;
Bring Yourself To Their Level
Kids these days watch shows different than the Full House and Looney Toons we grew up watching, they are now torn between enjoying their parents old school shows or falling in line with their peers watching Victorious, Josh and Drake among other shows that frequent the television these days. The best way to get in tune with your kids is to watch what they watch, engage them during the commercials, find out what it is about these shows that makes them enjoy such drama. Best bet is to discourage such shows, but these shows will really help you to bring yourself down to the level of their peers and in turn help you be able to communicate at their level. Heck, watch the latest in tween and teen shows while your kids are away from home to really get a hang for talking that tween and teen slang, you will impress them by being able to refrain from looking baffled at the words that spew out of their mouths. If you can bring yourself to simply understand, even if you do not agree, with what your kids are experiencing in a way that makes them feel as if you truly care, then they will be more apt to come to you for the small things, the big things and the even larger things that happen in their life.
Encourage Family Dinner at the Table Together
It has been proven that if a family can meet at the table for a meal once per day and engage in conversation together during meal time, that the family bond as a whole is more concrete with little feelings of being left out or misunderstood. Dinner time is usually the best time of day as kids have extra curricular activities, parents have to work and maybe the younger kids have activities or play dates to tend to. Dinner time is a great way to wind down over a good meal and great conversation with your family as a whole. This form of conversation over a meal together as a family teaches the lesson of listening, speaking and hearing others rather than tossing off what they are saying because you may be busy washing dishes while they are speaking to you. Each person has the rest of the families undivided attention and engages properly, respectfully and politely to each person in response to the topic they are discussing. Family Dinner at a table together really helps to glue a family unit together.
Encourage a Journal
There are multiple reasons why a kid should have a journal but the most important ones are that it can allow them to get out any negative that happened that day which will allow them to move on from that negative. The other benefit of having a journal is that the kids are able to write about their positive experiences and have them saved for future reference when they feel their life is just crap. As a parent, you need to really set up ground rules with the journal. Allow your child to have a private journal, one in which you will not touch or snoop through behind their back, but rather let them know beforehand that if their behavior is shooting red flags to you then you may need to read that journal for some insight as to what their emotional well being may be at that time. It’s easy to set ground rules that teach your kid they have space, but also that they are truly the kid, not the adult so their privacy is slightly limited. Having a journal may allow your kid to talk to you easier because they will not be so full of information, anger or happiness that they rambled off in a way that is hard to keep up with. A journal may help a kid slow down to focus on what their real issue is at the current time and in turn be able to express that to you in a manner that you are able to understand and lend advice about.
Remember That What your Kid Is Going Through is Personal To Them
You recall being that kid who knew 100% that their Mom or Dad just didn’t “get them”, right? That is your kid. Your kids now feel that you do not understand them, you have never lived a day like they are living and you are just some alien from another world that had this peachy clean time growing up. You were never bullied, you never faced challenges, life was just always easy for you as a kid. Remember, you have to get back down to the level of your kid’s ages and remember how you felt about your parents just not getting you. That is how your kids feel. If you can take your kids personal experiences and compare it to something that you went through at a younger age, but compare it in a way that makes sense to your kid, then you are able to find a way to communicate efficiently with your kids. By now, you should have a pretty good judgement of what example will compare appropriately for your child. Be brutally honest, if you went through some majorly bad bullying as a kid then you need to express that to your kid if they are suffering from not fitting in or being bullied. You see, when your kid can look into your eyes and see the feelings behind what you are sharing with them, they will trust in you more and eventually it will dawn on them that you do get it.
Just Be Honest and Real, Keep Your Home a Safe House so to Speak
All that your kid wants is for you to be real and honest with them. While your kids are not going to know for sure if you are telling them everything about a situation or giving advice based on personal experience for real, they will know that you are being honest with them. Kids just know these things. Do not make any topic off limits in your home, your kids are suppose to feel as if that home is their safe house. A safe place where they can mention, discuss and communicate anything going on in their world, their minds and with their peers. Never should a kid feel guarded in their own home, that is a setup for lack of communication as well as rebellious behavior. Sure you may not want your kids to know every single mistake you made, such as getting wasted at a party and making horrible decisions, but if you tell a story or experience in an honest and age appropriate way, your kids will learn to respect you more as well as open up to you more. They will realize you are a human and a real person, not just their “parent” or an alien from another world.
Keeping communication open with your kids through out all of the hormone changes, life changes and situations with friends is not going to be an easy process. Keeping communication open between you and your kids is going to take a lot of hard work, it’s going to take time each day to listen to them. Even if you are dead tired and would much rather curl into bed for an early nights sleep, do not do it. Take that time to really engage with your kid so that they can see that no matter how tired their parents are, that they are the top priority for their parents. That alone will boost a kids self esteem and encourage open communication in a household.