What Kids Need: Solid Communication

Dr. Rich Patterson

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What Kids Need: Solid Communication

In part three of this series, What Kids Need, I want to talk about Solid Communication.  This conversation level is different than casual, what’s going on conversation.  These are serious conversations, helping them build skills for decisive moments in life.  Those moments when they need to make the right decision in a difficult or very tempting situation when you’re not present.  When we establish robust communication channels with kids, they communicate with us.  I want to offer three ideas for developing the opportunity to talk shop with your young person.

First, when kids want to talk, the right time is right, no matter what happens.  They need to know that you are willing to drop anything for them, even to miss an important meeting or phone call.  My mentor John Maxwell tells a very moving story about a time when his son was having some problems with life.  John was selected to speak at a very high-level conference that is an extreme honor to speak.  His wife called him when he was en route to the event, on the plane.  She told him what was going on, and he immediately offered to turn around and head home.  She said, then you cannot speak at this event, and if you miss it, you will likely not be selected again.  He acknowledged that she was right but elected to decide to support his son first.  In this example, we see someone willing to put even their career online to be there to help their kids.  That’s the kind of parent you want to be for your young person.  If they are away at college, be there for them, call them, write them, text them little texts of support, know what is going on and be a part of it even when you cannot be there in person.

Second, spend a whole day with one child.  Take an entire day, and be together, doing some things they like doing, hang out, talk with them, be fully present for them without any advice or stories.  Enjoy doing things together.  When I was a child, my sister, dad, and I would all go fishing together nearly every Saturday.  That did two things, it gave the day for my older brother to be with mom, and my sister and I were with dad.  Now in the perfect world, it would have been just my dad and me.  When we take time to show this level of priority for your young person, we give them the feeling that they matter, that they are essential, that you support who they are and who they are becoming.

Third, talk with your child about world problems at their developmental level.  Help them to understand what our country is facing and ask them what they know about it.  You will be surprised at what kids know and are worried about concerning world problems.  My dad did this with us as kids by talking about articles he would read in the Readers Digest periodical.  He loved reading their stories and would frequently talk to us about what was coming.  For example, I remember when he first told us that the United States would build an interstate system that would connect every major city in the country.  Yes, I am that old!  It was revolutionary at the time and nearly inconceivable.  By being careful not to insert your bias’, you can help them develop their own opinions about important and future topics.

I challenge you today to take some time for serious and reliable communication with your young person.  Start with some world topics such as global warming, the environment, flooding, weather events, and find out what they know and share some of your thoughts from over the years.  Careful not to get into too many long stories.  In this case, it can be helpful to share some historical perspectives for our current events to help the young person frame them.  I hope that you will take the time to have a serious conversation with your young person.

Taking time to speak with kids openly is a connection that improves over time Connect With Kids – Dr. Rich Patterson (pattersonphd.com)

The CDC even has touched on this topic at Home | Communicating with Your Child | Essentials | Parenting Information | CDC

 

Yours for Better Parenting,

Rich