Top 4 Times for Parent-Child Talks
SHH…I have a secret. I have to tell you this secret because it could revolutionize your relationship with your children. This part is no secret, but—children encounter little aggravations and hassles all day long. We all know that! These hassles are like little lake flies buzzing around their head or little parasites trying to burrow into their lives. To you and me, the aggravations and hassles they experience seem like small fries…no big deal. To our children, however, these daily hassles rise up before their eyes like insurmountable waves about to crash down on their heads. Why? Because they have not yet gained the experience necessary to deal with these hassles. They have not developed the coping skills necessary to manage these daily aggravations. As a result, they need us to help them cope with them, and, in the process, teach them how to handle them on their own. So, here is the secret…a secret that can empower you to help your child grow. Ready for the secret? Certain times of the day provide more opportunity for you to help your child handle daily hassles. Don’t tell your kids…it’s a secret….But, here are the top 4 times to help your children handle daily hassles:
Number four: The first thing in the morning. When your children wake up in the morning is actually an excellent time to help prepare them for the daily hassles. The first thing in the morning is when you set the tone for the day. Each morning, prime your children for a positive day by checking in with them, finding out about their day, and helping them manage their schedule. Meet them “where they are” (some people just are not morning people), enjoy a pleasant conversation, share a simple breakfast, and express affection for them. A simple hug and an “I love you,” an “I’ll be thinking about you today,” or “I’m proud of you” can work wonders in getting anyone’s day off to a good start. And a day that starts off well seems to go better as well, hassles seem less significant after starting the day with pleasant conversation and a hug.
Number three: In the car is a great time to help children learn to deal with daily hassles. This is a tremendous time to model how you deal with daily hassles (I wish this was not true, because I hate traffic!). In addition, children often begin to talk about their day and various aggravations or troubles when they are “stuck in a car” with you during a trip to a friend’s house, the store, or practice. Allow them to bring up the subject and listen. Don’t jump to give advice, just listen. After you have listened, empathize. Let them experience your attempt to understand how they feel as well as what they say. Then…after you understand and fully empathize…then, you can problem solve with them.
Number two: Family meal time offers the whole family an opportunity to talk about the day. Family members can share joys and laughter as well as what they found frustrating or aggravating throughout the day. Rejoice in your children’s successes and share in their frustrations. Let them tell you about the “mean teacher” without offering an explanation of the teacher’s actions. Let them express their anger about a decision you made…without jumping to your own defense. Simply understand their frustration. Listen. Once you understand their feelings about the situation, ask them what could have made the situation better. As they offer an explanation, listen. You’ll learn a lot about your children as you listen. Then, you can problem solve with them to build ways of dealing with similar situations in the future.
And the number one time to talk with your child about daily hassles and aggravations: during the bedtime routine. The last moments of the day arguably offer the best time to resolve differences, talk through frustrations, and reconnect in a loving way. Take time to reflect on the joys of the day as well as resolving daily frustrations. Make the last time of the day a time to connect and understand your child. Allow them to experience your unfailing affection for them as the day draws to an end. This will enable them to fall asleep bathed in your understanding, secure in your love, and floating peacefully into their dreams.
Taking advantage of these four opportunities to talk with your child about daily hassles and how to manage them will enable your child to feel rest in your home and more intimate with you.