Change Your Words, Change Your Mind: Positive communication with kids

08-01-2018Counselor's CornerBeverly Winterfeld, M.Ed. Guidance and Counseling

How we communicate with our kids simply dictates our relationships at home, school, and church and in the community. Whether it is verbally or non-verbally we signal our love, hate, approval, disapproval agreement or disagreement through communication. Most adults don’t realize our body language, eyes, voice and smile or frown clearly communicates just as easily as verbally saying something to someone.

How can parents better communicate kids with a problem or homework?

  • Talk about the problem to clarify what the real issue is and what the directions are asking us to do. Teach them how to use key words and questions for clarification.
  • Praise the student, even if it looks difficult as they begin the process showing guidance and understanding.
  • Remember mistakes are not failures, but ways to learn lessons, so encourage them to try by themselves even if it means mistakes. Gently make corrections, explaining why you corrected it and show love and caring.
  • Gain more knowledge by suggesting they use additional resources, and help them discover them. This will show your kids that learning new things is always important for adults as it is for kids.
  • Change is an opportunity, so trying something new or different on an assignment or a problem should be encouraged. Your challenge as adults is to help the kids change their thinking for a positive outcome.
  • Set an example, or share examples of how you problem solved and use positive self-talk at work, home or in the classroom when encountering a problem.
  • Seek a positive outcome, so the process can be repeated and kids will use it again.
  • Give the kids credit for hard work and persistence, explaining those are lifelong skills. Sometimes the “A” grade is not as important as what they learned during the process.

Part of positive communications is teaching kids to apologize if they make a mistake, compliment others for a job well done, and learn how to accept suggestions for improvement without personalizing it as a criticism. Positive thinking will build inner strength and help kids grow mentally and spiritually, in an optimistic life.

Research has shown positive thinking and communications can help with stress, coping with traumatic issues like those in our community, and give us more enthusiasm and energy. Choose to see the bright side and try not to get stuck on a negative event.

Be a good example of positive communication for our kids

  • Be attentive, listen twice as much as you talk.
  • Use good body language in eyes, voice, tone and gestures.
  • Express your thoughts positive….  You might need to count to 10 or leave out the negative
  • Allow time to communicate something important, and be considerate of others time to listen.
  • Choose your positive words carefully and if you are in a difficult situation. Its better to remain quiet than be a negative voice.
  • Teach kids that bullying, and name-calling is not appropriate, at home, school or in the community. Even what seems innocent can be hurtful if it’s said in the wrong way or with a negative tone.
  • Show compassion and empathy, and offer solutions especially in stressful situations.
  • Seeing the others point of view and disagreeing carefully, show kids it’s important to hear others opinions.
  • Respect others boundaries, but be honest and be yourself.
  • Everyone can be a positive contributor so listen and value all ideas.  Teaching kids that anger is an emotion to use sparingly.
  • Above all, find the positive in all situations, and welcome new opportunities or ideas.
  • Limit your phone/ social media time, research shows it triggers negative events and thinking.

If we are handed Lemons, make Lemonade out of the opportunity.

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