Since I became a mother 6 years ago, I change completly my way of thinking, my way of acting. Before I never really questionned about the way I was talking, but I realised that this could make a huge difference for your child.
I grew up with a mother yelling at me and sometime slapping me if I was not doing what I was supposed to do. For me it was very important to be a good mother, to listen to my child.
I always promised myselef that I will not be the same mother. But when your child arrives, you have a lot of ideas of what you will do and what you will never do, but… the reality is not that simple. Sometimes you feel lost in regards to your values and you don’t know anymore how to handle the situation.
I read a lot of articles and book on Positive Parenting and for me that was the way to go.
Why choosing Positive Parenting?
A positive approach to parenting helps children feel capable, cooperative, confident and connected to you.
Positive parenting is not just letting go of punishments. And it’s not permissive either. Positive Parenting is choosing to be actively involved in connecting with your child and supporting them to grow well.
Children are very capable and willing to cooperate, especially when they feel a strong bond with their parents.
Positive Parenting has an influence on language development, social skills and friendships, academic achievements, motivation and more.
As a parent, you are your child’s first and potentially most influential role model. How you solve problems, confront stress and challenges will teach your child how to do the same.
When I realise all the benefits that a positive Communication could bring to my children and my relationship, I decided to educate myself.
Believe it or not but Positive communication is not something that we have in us. It is something that we need to train.
Sophie Néel suggests 7 keys to insure a positive communication to bring harmony in your familly.
For those who can read French , Sophie Néel’s book can be found on Amazon: here
- Explain as much as you can
A question that we should ask ourselves: « What would I be thinking if I was in my baby’s shoes? »
Explain can support in several ways:
- anticipating the questions that your kids is asking himself (ex: telling him that we will change room, that we will give him a bath…);
- reassuring often (ex : in case of absence, tell him that we will come back, tell them often that we love them);
- preventing of what is going to happen (ex : before that the child fall asleep in the car, letting him know that when he will wake up he might be in his bed), giving some time before the end of the activity and starting a countdown, letting them know about a possible pain before a medical exam) . Sophie Néel writes that the child who have been told about the potential pain from an injection are doing much better that the child to whom you would have said nothing.
- repeating things several time. An informed child is more serene.
To learn more about this, I would recommand the “Positive Discipline, Parenting tools” from Jane Nelsen.
2. Instaure Communications rituals
Those communication rituals are fun and reserved little, during which exclusive time will be dedicated to the child.
They can happen during the breakfast on Sunday morning or on Friday evening with a tray meal, during snack on Wednesday afternoon, just before bed time… They are the opportunity to come back on the day ( ex: tell me what was the best thing of the day, or tell me what are your three biggest joys of the day and your three biggest anger of the day) or to explain what happen during the day from the morning till the evening.
3. Speak about yourself, be authentic
Kids don’t need perfect parents but authentic parents. They need parents who can explain them why they are sad or in anger in a healthy way without lying or declining their emotions.
If we do not explain to them, there is a high probability that they may feel responsible for our state. Si rien n’est expliqué aux enfants, ils risquent de se rendre responsables de notre état, and feed irrational fears.
Moreover, talking about our needs and emotions helps to develop the child’s empathy and the emotional intelect from the child.
For this, the Positive Communication process can help us:
4. Raise the taboos of communication
The taboos arise when certain subjects cause hostile reactions (anger, sadness, bypassing/entertainment, order in silence …) or elements of nonverbal communication which indicate to the children who these subjects are to be avoided (mimes of the face, the tense physical posture …).
To raise the taboos of communication can pass by the fact of:
- Speak about everything (secrets of family, death, sexuality, politics, religion …).
Children have the right to different opinions from adults and it is important to respect their views
- Tell the truth :
Trust is born from the sincerity of the exchanges, especially since our non-verbal communication betrays us when we lie. The more we lie, the less the children trust us, the less authentically they will talk to us in return
5. Be an active lisener
To really listen sometimes requires postponing the discussion to be 100% present, attentive and dedicated.
Active listening is a good way to improve your communication with your child. It lets your child know you are interested in what she has to say and want to hear more. When you are actively listening, you give your full attention to your child.
Active Listening is the best parenting tool when you:
- sense strong feelings on the part of your child.
- think that your child needs to vent emotions, feel understood, or have an opportunity to clarify his thoughts by talking with an accepting person.
- are not involved personally in the situation – the situation is not your problem and you can stay separate and objective.
6. Avoid to leave questions without answers
Unanswered questions are often nourished by children’s imaginations and lead to painful emotions (fear, anger, sadness, disgust).
We are not obliged to go into all the details and we can tell the children when their questions bother us, even if it means postponing the answer, the time to digest these woken feelings. The children are exactly sometimes our “guides”: they put the finger where we still have some work to do …
When we don’t know the answer to a question, we can refer them to people or resources to get a proper answer.
7. It is never too late to start Positive Communication with your child
Sophie Néel writes:
At any time, even 10 years later, you have the possibility to bring explanation to your child. If you realise that you had some inadequate behaviour, that you talk to him with unappropriate words or tone, so there is still time to catch up. You can always explain things to him or ask for forgiveness, even 5 years later, it is never too late. Your apology will be restorative and may allow him to move forward more serenely.
For those who can read French , Sophie Néel book can be found on Amazon: here