The saying, “children should be seen and not heard” rang true in past generations. In many cultures today, this still rings true.
As parents, it can be that we are so busy trying to take care of ‘life’, that we forget that our children represent the future. What we instill in them now will be of help to them in their approach to life and relationships.
Children who know that they have an adult who is non-judgmental, trustworthy, and supportive of their endeavors are usually more con dent with sharing their feelings, thoughts and dreams.
I’ve put together seven key things that have helped me in developing a trusting relationship with my children (2 years old and my 6 years old). While this will always be a work in progress, I believe it is important to have trust in any relationship especially with your children.
Speak the truth
When sharing with your children, be aware of how much a child should know. Factor in their age and emotional maturity. Tailor the subject but always speak the ‘truth’. This is incredibly important. Speaking the truth shows that we trust them to understand the situation in a way they can comprehend and it builds trust.
Watch body language and tone
Children are very good at reading body language. They notice when we are smiling, withdrawn or angry…even if we say nothing. In a conversation, when a person folds his/her arms – a wall has gone up. The ability to absorb substantial content is limited. When we keep our arms open, look them in the eye and talk with an even tone, we encourage a similar response from them. Remove the threat of a confrontation – no matter what the topic.
Be practical with discipline
Children make mistakes. Discipline is a part of creating a structured family environment with set values. How we handle discipline can remove the fear a child may have in telling you the truth next time, or coming to you when they have made a mistake. Give them ideas on how to problem solve, instead of negative criticism. This will allow them to troubleshoot their own solutions.
Share your thoughts
Trust your children enough to share your own concerns. Bring up a challenge you had when you were young. Talk about things that frustrated you and how you solved them. Ask for advice and what they would do in such a situation. Sometimes a childish response can help you to understand more about your children and how they perceive problems.
Be apart of their lives
Simply ask to join them in something they are doing. This will allow you to understand why they are reading that book, watching that show, feeling sad or happy. After a while, they will start to look forward to sharing with you.
When you make a promise, show your child that it’s important enough to make it happen. When you keep your word, it shows them that they are valued and that you do what you say.
This is most important in any relationship. When we feel we are really being heard and not interrupted or dismissed, we open up. Sit quietly and ‘hear’ them until they are done.
These points are sometimes hard to accomplish, but if we are successful at a few, we open up a door to an entirely new relationship with our children. We allow them to become a valued member of the family where their thoughts and ideas are important.
I challenge everyone to pick one idea that you can actively start on today. Reach out and let me know how it works! Share your ideas as well.
By Mostafa Hassan
Mostafa (ArabBaba) is a teacher by profession. He has been an Arab Stay-At-Home-Baba (Dad) to his two daughters. He is also a blogger, who is on a mission to prove that Parental Engagement is vital to the process of children’s education. For more on ArabBaba visit www.ArabBaba.org.