Wellness isn’t just about being balanced and healthy in your physical body, it is also about having healthy emotions and responses and being able to communicate your needs in a way that is not detrimental to other family members. That may sound like a tall order, considering some of the heated words that can take place, but there is a middle ground that all family members can strive for.
Communication is an important tool to teach your children. However, in that teaching, you should not just disregard their thoughts and feelings simply because it does not fit in with your wishes, or your plans for the day. Nor should you overrule their complaints unfairly without any thought. Communication is a two-way process and it requires participation by all parties involved. Once you have a good level of communication, you can strive for a solution to any issue and this will result in more family harmony (hopefully!).
Getting started with eye contact
You should help your child to understand the benefit of eye contact. This is one of the most underrated ways of communicating. Many people try to say what they want, but very often, the other person is not actively listening and is dividing their attention either with a task, watching television, or something else. This preoccupation immediately conveys that fact that you a re disinterested in what they have to say, even if it isn’t true. This can quickly escalate a conversation to shouting proportions and inevitably one of you stamping away, and that means no solution will be reached. So stop all activities and make good eye contact.
Active listening is incredibly important. By this I mean actually listening to what the person is saying, not what you think they are saying. Listen to the actual words and emotions that they are conveyed with. Assumptions are one of the biggest causes of miscommunication and misunderstandings. Many people will switch off halfway through someone’s sentence and consider a response, rather than listen to everything that is said and then consider what to say.
Others may start to answer back in defense, particularly if the communication is perceived as an attack, (which it may or may not be). If you doubt what I say, just listen to your thoughts right now. You have probably already formulated an opinion to what I have just said before I have finished, and that means you may have agreed or disagreed with what I have said. Agreeing or disagreeing is not a solution. The best way to find a solution is to ascertain exactly what is required by the family member and formulate a plan either to achieve it or to reach a compromise. You can only do this by listening.
Clarification is important. If you do not understand what your child is saying ask them. Do not think you know what they mean, as it is almost guaranteed that you don’t.
Have a regular meeting time where all family members can have their time to air views, thoughts, feelings, and encourage all topics of discussion, even if you are not comfortable with it. Don’t be afraid to admit your own feelings; this is not a sign of weakness, but it demonstrates to your child that you are not the all-knowing and all-seeing God and you do have your own limitations. If you feel that outside intervention is required, say so. Your child is more likely to have respect for you trying offering this solution than if you bury your head in the sand or refuse to discuss the situation.
It is important to share happiness as well as complaints too, and if at all possible try to ensure that the discussion ends amicably for everyone. Of course, there may be times when one or another family members goes screaming off to their bedrooms, this is a natural part of life, and no matter how much you try you will never fully understand all aspects of complaints.
In fact, you may also find at some point that your child reacts badly to the reasonableness and good communication you offer. Do not take this as a judgment against yourself; it is a natural progression and assertion that your child needs to make. Just ensure your child always knows that they are loved and if they need space give it to them. They’ll come round when they’re ready and have processed through whatever they needed to.