Jamaican Mommies by Shanoy Coombs: From Jamaica; for the world
Just one morning, while heading off to work, I saw a little boy of about 5 or so with his mother. She proceeded to stop a taxi and then asked the driver if she could get a brief stop to a certain community to leave her child for the day. On hearing the place’s name, the little boy put up a major fuss and was wailing and pulling away from his mother, all the while refusing to go into the vehicle, He kept shrieking “I don’t want to go to __________, please mommy, don’t let me go” to which the mother replied with a sturdy shake and many loud outbursts of why the child should not disobey or disrespect her in public. Now I’m a strong opponent for disciplined and respectful children, but I am also a firm believer in cultivating not just a speaking to, but a listening to relationship with one’s child(ren). After all, an ‘investigation’ by the mother may have revealed exactly why the child was so hesitant and might have helped to prevent a possibly hazardous situation.
More generally though, too often we hear parents shrieking at how ‘hard ears’ their kids are and how they disobey their every rule. Simultaneously, you hear the everyday cry from older children “you never listen to me”. What this therefore means is that many parents are taking more of an autocratic approach to communication-which is itself a fallacy, since communication is supposed to be a two-way street with feedback from both parties (mind you not at the same time, since this might only aggravate both parties further).
We at Jamaican Mommies therefore did some research to get tips on how parents can effectively communicate with their kids (Speaking and listening)and these were some of our most useful tips:
1. Invite your child to talk to you. Respond to your child’s opening remark by saying, “Let’s talk about it” or “You have a right to express how you feel.”
2, Ask open-ended questions that encourage children to share their feelings and ideas. Ask
“What did you do in school today?” instead of “Did school go well today?”
3. Help children identify their feelings. Describe your own feelings. Instead of saying “I’m upset,” say “I’m feeling sad and discouraged because I didn’t get the job.”
4. Talk about things of interest to your children. You can gain a new understanding into the world of your pre-teen or teenager.
?? Choose topics that everyone can talk about. Talking about the “scariest moment I ever had” or “what I want to be when I grow up” fosters involvement.
5. Spend time having fun together. You may have to re-order your priorities and drop some commitments that take time away from the family.By being honest about your own feelings and listening to your children, you can reduce misunderstanding and develop a closeness based on trust and acceptance.
Additional tips also include:
*Look a child in the eyes so you can tell when they understand… bend or sit down… become the child’s size.
* Practice listening and talking: talk with your family about what you see on TV, hear on the radio or see at the park or store. (Talk with your children about school and their friends.)
*Respect children and use a courteous tone of voice. If we talk to our children as we would our friends, our youngsters may be more likely to seek us out as confidants.
*Use door openers that invite children to say more about an incident or their feelings. “I see,” “Oh,” “tell me more,” “No kidding,” “Really,” “Mmmmhmmmmm,” “Say that again, I want to be sure I understand you.”
*Give your undivided attention when your children want to talk to you. Don’t read, watch TV, fall asleep or make yourself busy with other tasks.
I’m sure when much of these tips become regular fixtures in our lives, our children may grow to feel just how important their voices are and will actually approach parents for feedback on the tough decisions in their lives.
Be sure to share just how you encourage a speak and listen relationship with your child(ren)