Invite Your Kids to Talk Rather Than Text

Here’s the hot parenting question for today (at least the one I’m asked quite frequently): “How do you boost communication skills with today’s digital natives who would rather text than talk?” It’s a great question.

Here’s today’s Reality Check: Today’s kids send and receive an average of 88 texts a day (Pew).

We know that effective communication is critical for boosting our relationship with our kids. We also know that children who are know how to listen are often kids who are well-liked. Communication skills are also core for boosting our children’s confidence, leadership skills, relationship success as well as in their career.

Here’a four-part formula I learned way back when I was working on my doctorate. It still is one of the most effective formulas that invites kids to talk as well as strengthen family ties. Of course, the best way to learn any new skill is by modeling and practicing!

Do remember to set “sacred, unplugged family times when there nothing “plugged in” is allowed–only face-to-face communication!

Using the technique of active listening is one of the easiest as well as most powerful ways to encourage kids to encourage your child to speak up and share his feelings, ideas and experiences.

The best lessons in active listening I learned not from a textbook or class but from my son, Adam, when he was just two. Whenever we would talk, he had a habit of taking my chin in his hand and pulling my face towards him, so my eyes were directly in front of his face. His actions were crystal clear: Adam wanted my complete attention.

The way he knew I was listening was by seeing my eyes exclusively on his eyes. That’s what our kids want most–knowing we’re really listening and interested in what they have to say. Using active listening with our kids conveys that message to them.

Here’s a four-part formula for using active listening adapted from the work of outstanding communication experts, Dr. Thomas Gordon and Dr. Haim Ginott. As with any technique, learning the formula takes practice and effort, but the benefits are enormous for enhancing your family’s communication. It’s also a wonderful way to develop a warmer and more intimate relationship with your child. And, best yet, watching you do it is the best way for your child to recognize what good listening behaviors look and sound like. He’ll be more likely to use the skill in his own life…

Read More: Dr. Michele Borba,

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