3 Methods of Parent-Child Communication to Avoid

Communicate the right way

This is a guest post by Alex Devadass, a former Vice Principal from MOE Singapore.


If a child lives with criticism, the child learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility, the child learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, the child learns to be shy.
If a child lives with fear, the child learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with shame, the child learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, the child learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, the child learns to be confident.
If a child lives with acceptance, the child learns to love.
If a child lives with recognition, the child learns it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with honesty the child learns what truth is.
If a child lives with fairness, the child learns justice.
If a child lives with security, the child learns to have faith in himself and those about him.
If a child lives with friendliness, the child learns the world is a nice place in which to live, to love and be loved.

I read this anonymous quote back in 2000 and it holds true to building a healthy and positive parent – child relationship. The key ingredient in building this type of parent – child relationship is Communication between parent and child. The style of parenting usually leads to the style of communication that parents have with their child.

In my years as a Vice Principal in a primary school, I have seen my fair share of diverse communication styles between parents and their children. I would like to highlight three such varieties.

 

Parent A

“My child is stupid! I have told him so many times not to do this but he still does it. It is all his fault!” screamed Parent A at her child when she was called in to meet me after we discovered that he had punched his classmate in the stomach intentionally and threatened the rest of his classmates that he would beat them up after school that day. The child sat in his seat as his mother went on ranting, screaming and occasionally hitting him on his shoulder. “You cause me so many problems. I really do not understand what your problem is. You wait, we get home, and I will cane you!” the mother continued. The boy did not respond at all but looked down on the floor as this exchange continued. The mother continued berating the boy and continued scolding him as they left my office. The boy did not utter a word and just walked beside his mother.

Parent B

“Mr Alex, are you sure it was my child who started it? I am sure the classmates and the teacher must be blaming her for nothing. This has been going on far too long. My child has never done anything wrong but yet the school wants to punish her and call us down all the time. You continue this, we will go to MOE,” retorted Parent B when I told him his daughter had stolen a book from the school bookshop. “Don’t worry girl we will protect you. We know you did not do anything wrong,” added the mother. Even before I could explain and while I was explaining, the father cut in and demanded that we produce video evidence and proof that it was his daughter who had committed the theft. The parents sat on either side of the child and hugged her and comforted her as she cried. They kept telling her not to worry and that she was not to be blamed. By the end of the session I had with the parents and their daughter, the girl had a smirk on her face and was defiant. She eventually denied what she had confessed earlier and took no blame for the incident. The incident was brought up to MOE by the parents and after investigations it was proven that the girl had stolen. The child showed no remorse and refused to apologise.

Parent C

Parent C walked into my office and immediately declared, “I am very busy at work and you called me to come down. What is the problem? I really have no time for this. I really do not want to know what my son has done. So please make this fast and then you punish him the way the school wants to.” I was quite flabbergasted when the mother responded in this manner. The boy just stared blankly with no real emotions across his face as his mother sat next to him and looked at him and repeated to him whatever questions I addressed to her. The boy had vandalised a water cooler in the school and the mother and child were nonchalant in their outlook. Before leaving the mother added, “I really don’t have time for him. It is his problem. If you want, you can call his father.”

 

Take a moment and ponder if any of you reading this article have practised such communication styles with your child before or if you are still practising such communication patterns with your child. If you are, my advice is to pause and reflect. I have shared the extremes of communication styles and patterns that parents have with their children which, in my humble opinion, should be avoided.

Reflect on how you communicate to your child

Reflect on how you speak to your child

 

Parent A uses the authoritative communication style where parents allow for little open dialogue between parent and child and expect the child to follow a strict set of rules and expectations. The parents usually rely on punishment to demand obedience or teach a lesson. The child can eventually be prone to having low self-esteem, being fearful or shy, associating obedience with love, having difficulty in social situations, and possibly misbehaving when outside of parental care.

 

Parent B uses the permissive communication style also known as the indulgent. These parents are responsive but not demanding of their child and overly protect their child. These parents tend to be lenient while trying to avoid confrontation. Parents who use this type of communication style set very few rules for the child and the rules are inconsistent when they do exist. This lack of structure causes the child to grow up with little self-discipline and self-control and they can flare up at a later age.

 

Parent C uses the Neglectful communication style as they speak minimally and are involved minutely in their child’s life. The child has no trust foundation with the parents from which to explore the world. The child who has a negative or absent relationship with their parent will have a harder time forming relationships with other people, particularly with other children their age.

 

So, “Where do I strike the balance when I speak with my child?” you may ask. You can strike a balance when you communicate your high expectations of your child yet temper the expectations with an understanding and support for your child. You should create a healthy environment in which your child feels comfortable and productive engaging in a conversation with you. You need to foster and encourage an open communication style with your child. Speak with your child without judgement or reprimand and this will open up insights into your child’s heart and mind – more importantly, the finer details of your child’s life and understanding that will create a mutually beneficial relationship. This can create a safe and loving foundation for your growth as a family.

 

Try some of these words or phrases on a daily basis:

  • Very good, Excellent, Marvellous
  • That’s right, Correct, Wonderful
  • I like the way you do that, I’m pleased with (proud of ) you
  • That’s good, Wow, Great going, Good for you, That’s the way
  • Much better, You’re doing better, That’s perfect
  • Good idea, What a clever idea
  • Way to go, I appreciate the way you ____, You’re the best
  • Good remembering, That’s beautiful, I like your____
  • I like the way you ____ without having to be asked (reminded)
  • I’m glad you are my son/daughter, I Love You
  • That’s it, Great job controlling yourself, I like the way you _______
  • I noticed that you ____, Keep it up, I had fun ___ with you
  • You are improving at ___ more and more
  • You showed a lot of responsibility when you ____

Do have fun and build that positive relationship with your child through the way you communicate. Remember,

 

If a child lives with criticism, the child learns to condemn.
If a child lives with hostility, the child learns to fight.
If a child lives with ridicule, the child learns to be shy.
If a child lives with fear, the child learns to be apprehensive.
If a child lives with shame, the child learns to feel guilty.
If a child lives with tolerance, the child learns to be patient.
If a child lives with encouragement, the child learns to be confident.
If a child lives with acceptance, the child learns to love.
If a child lives with recognition, the child learns it is good to have a goal.
If a child lives with honesty the child learns what truth is.
If a child lives with fairness, the child learns justice.
If a child lives with security, the child learns to have faith in himself and those about him.
If a child lives with friendliness, the child learns the world is a nice place in which to live, to love and be loved.

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