We talk, we yak, we chat, both in person, online, and via phone and texting. But, do we really communicate? Do we model good conversation and effective communication to our children? Do we build relationships with words?
Lack of good communication is among the top reasons for divorce, so that indicates that talking doesn’t always translate to communicating well. One big part of communication is listening. Another is to think before you speak and to remember that your face and body language also send messages that affirm or contradict your words.
Use positive words and invest time in the person. Look the speaker in the eye and don’t let let technology or other things be distractions. Be in the moment with the person. Respond to their words and the messages they communicate through body language.
With a child, get eye level (bend down, kneel, or sit) and make sure you listen and respond. They will be more willing to open up and talk. It takes time for a child to trust you. It starts with spending time together and listening.
I recently spent a week vacationing with my middle son and his family. I enjoyed being with my young grandsons and listening to them. We baked and ate breads together, blew bubbles and popped them, and spent time at the beach. I wiped away spider webs that scared them. We bridged the time of the past year when we had not been together.
Jacob, almost four, loved the waves and water one day at low tide and expressed fear the next day as the tide came in with stronger waves. He had learned to trust me in baking and bubble blowing, so he was ready to listen and trust as we faced the waves together.
I picked him up to be eye level and told him to trust me that I could get past the bug waves by going a little deeper. He could still stand but he could also roll and jump with the waves. His fear turned to delight and he splashed and played in the water. Then he rushed over to his dad to play in the waves with him and share how he could jump over the big splashes. Part of communicating is connecting and sharing.
Who will you invest time with today to build your relationship?