By: Jan Hittelman

The way that we communicate with our children, both verbally and nonverbally, has a profound impact on their compliance with our requests, their sense of self, our mood and theirs, and ultimately, the parent-child relationship. Too often, conflicts begin as a result of a real or perceived slight in the way we communicate with each other. Being thoughtful with the words we choose and our intentions in terms of what we want to express, can help us to be more effective communicators.

Some basic strategies to improve our communication techniques with our children include:

• R-E-S-P-E-C-T: It is important to treat our children with the same level of respect that we want them to show others.
• Provide positive feedback: We need to remember to let our children know what they’re doing right to reinforce those behaviors.
• Teach and model making positive self-statements: Identify and challenge your children’s negative inaccurate beliefs about themselves.
• Encourage your child to share his/her opinions: Some of the most effective discussions with our children are when they do most of the talking.
• Be a good listener: Often our children are looking less for advice and more for someone to really listen to them.
• Foster pleasant discussions: Too often, what we talk to our children about is their behavior, homework, and doing their chores. Try initiating fun, interesting, and heartfelt conversations as well.
• Be aware of nonverbal communication: Our facial expressions, eye-contact (or lack of), the tone and volume of our voice, body language, etc., all influence the messages our children receive.