Writer. Teacher. Mother. Smartass.
author of Raising Confident Humans, available on Amazon.
A single mother from Northern Virginia. Her son is a twenty-something smartass that she wouldn't change for the world.
In fact, she is quite the smartass herself so...there's that. A former Teacher, she continues to study human psychology as a hobby so that she can people-watch and diagnose without her subjects knowing. Kidding! Sort of.
You can usually find her hiking, traveling, writing short stories, or reading a good book.
COMMUNICATION CHEAT SHEET
Improve the way you communicate with your child to improve your relationship.
Words can have a powerful impact on the way we see our own situations. Whether they inflame or calm us. So choose them wisely.
That's where I want to help. By changing the way you communicate, you can change your relationships practically overnight.
Imagine what would be different if you used these phrases and statements when there's an issue with one of your children - it may not solve all problems but could help de-escalate power struggles.
(1) “I’m curious.”
When we are upset at our child's behavior, we sometimes say things like, "What were you thinking? How many times do I have to tell you?" Those questions are demeaning and counterproductive. They put the child on the defensive.
Try leading with “I’m curious about what you were thinking when you...” instead. It keeps the child calm and opens up communication.
"I'm curious," may give an opening for discussion and lead to important insights.
The two of you can discuss what the child thought and then together figure out a way to work out the problem.
(2) “Can I help?”
When we're upset with our kids' behaviors, we're tempted to criticize them. We get into "I told you so" or "you should have known better" mode without giving much thought about how we can help them.
Besides giving advice, try "Can I help?"
There are a lot of parents who tell me they constantly give "helpful" tips and instructions to their kids and teens but these never work because most children dislike being told how to do something or feel judged by their authority figures.
(3) “Is it okay if ________”
This is really an extension of #1 and #2 above. If you ask permission before helping your child or giving advice, you'll get better cooperation and less resistance.
Asking if it's okay to help is a softer approach than telling or ordering them to do something.
(4) “You may feel X but that doesn’t mean the next step needs to be Y”
Kids tend to allow their emotions to take over their actions. They get mad and then lash out, which causes us no end of frustration and problems when we are dealing with them. A useful phrase for defusing a potentially explosive situation is "You may feel angry now but I need you to calm down so we can work together."
(5) “I can see this is frustrating, can we try X instead?”
Let's say your child is struggling with a tough homework problem. You try to help by giving advice or helping him along, but he keeps coming back with the same answer and getting frustrated.
Instead of telling them it's wrong or asking why something doesn't work, you can respond with “I can see what you are trying is frustrating, let’s stop for now and take a break—then I’ll show you another way to look at this problem that might make more sense for you.”
This shows understanding because if they've come up with the same result repeatedly, there must be some reason they're stuck and stepping away is the best course of action.
(6) "That doesn't sound like you."
This phrase is disarming in the moment, when your child is most likely beating himself up inside. It's a good way to get your child to think about his behavior. Then discuss what is making them speak this way.
(7) "What do you think?"
Too often, we decide for our kids without involving them. It is easy to forget that being included in the decision-making process builds self-esteem by allowing them to feel competent and valued at the same time. Chances are you may not have had that growing up.
Do you enjoy going somewhere with family members who tell you where we're going and what to expect without asking your opinion? That's how it feels when adults make all the decisions for children - it leaves no room for their voice.
(8) "Can I tell you a story?"
When we can't figure out what to do, it helps when a parent tells them about something they did that worked for them. It makes you seem relatable. Often, it leads to inspiration about a new solution.
(9) “I understand” vs. “You don't have to be afraid/worried/frustrated/mad”
There is a tendency for us adults to tell kids not to feel sad or angry when they're feeling those emotions. After all, we want them to be happy and feel safe all the time. We are their parents and want to protect them at all costs. It's just not a sustainable way to live.
If we can understand how they feel, and validate their feelings as ok then we can help them work through them.
(10) "I'm proud of you for X."
We love seeing our kids do well, but sometimes there is too much pressure on success in the academic sense. We need to give credit when they have done a good job or exceeded our expectations outside of school, like helping around the house, taking care of younger siblings or volunteering. They don't need to be the best student in their class to be appreciated.
(11) "I'm sorry. I was wrong." 👈 Contrary to popular belief, this does not signify weakness. In fact, quite the opposite.
Do this often with your children. When they sense sincerity in us, their defensive walls will crumble.
Humility is such a wonderful tool.
Remember, winning arguments isn't about being right. It's about ensuring a good relationship between parent and child that results in pleasure and satisfaction all around.
(12) “What can we do differently?”
It is difficult for us to keep coming up with new ideas when things are not working out how we want them to. This question helps your child to not only feel respected but also allows them to be a part of the solution.
The art of parenting is not exactly simple. It's all about listening to your child and understanding the motives behind their actions, which are often born from fear or anger in times where they feel like no one else listens to them.
The best way for parents to handle this is by staying calm themselves so that others can follow suit. Disarming statements will divert attention away from a power struggle into something more productive while making it easier for everyone involved with less arguing because everyone feels heard and respected.
Implementing this into daily life is an effective way to eliminate pouting, arguing and power struggles. If you need a reminder, just look back at any situation that escalated and think how it could have been handled differently with the use of these phrases.
You will see results.
Life can be unpredictable. We don’t always have control over the things that happen, but we have control over our own actions and reactions.
Those of us who are parents need to remember how much power lies in our ability to influence others through patience and love.
This has the potential to create significant change in the world for years to come.
For more actionable tips on improving your relationships and raising confident children practucally overnight, please read "Raising Confident Humans," by your's truly.
The link is below.
A Gen-X/Millennial Parenting Guide To Building Confidence and Trust in your child
Now Available on Amazon
The inspiration for this book came from a question I asked the teens of Tiktok. "What is one thing you wish your parents understood that would make your relationship ten times stronger?"
The response was overwhelming with well over 200,000 comments and a lot of emotions. I added several to the end of this book.
This Gen-x Millenial "parenting guide" was written by your's truly so warning...There is a little humor sprinkled throughout.
Also, occasionally a word here and there that may cause a pearl clutch reaction in some.
This is a contribution to the world in hopes of changing the way we communicate with our children. Because lets face it, parents can make or break a child's self-esteem which can have a profound impact on them and essentially, society.
Broken people break people.
Unhappy and unconfident people hurt others.
It's a vicious cycle.
How many times have you looked back on something you did or said to them and thought, "Damn. That's a therapy moment they're going to have to work through later in life? We've all been there.
The one thing that I hear over and over again from parents is "Why don't my kids talk to me? Why don't they trust me? Why don't they do what they're told?"
My answer is always, "you have to model the behavior you want to see in your child."
You see? If you're quick to react...If name calling is involved...If you're raising your voice...Demanding respect without giving it yourself... Setting impossible limits. Not interested in what it is they want for their own life...welllllllllll. Can you see where I'm going with this?
They come into the world with a unique personality. Unique gifts and talents to be explored and nurtured.
Understanding that is the first step.
This book is a quick and easy read filled with fun, practical steps to instill confidence which will hopefully be passed on for generations. That ripple effect could be world changing.
But, the work starts with....You.
Bonus: They'll begin to trust you and look to you for guidance instead of resisting you at every turn.
Bonus #2: Your relationship will be closer. More so into adulthood.