What communication skills are you modeling?

Children learn about communication and relationships in 3 primary ways:

  1. By how parents interact with them
  2. From observing parents as they interact with others
  3. From the own interactions with others

Here are some suggestions by psychologist and author Martin Seligman (you can find more information and books by Martin Seligman by clicking on his name) for curbing behaviours that might impair more positive communication and relationships.

  • Don’t use physical aggression in front of your child. This includes throwing things or slamming doors. These actions are very scary for children.
  • Express your feelings with words as much as possible. Use assertiveness, rather than aggression. Say, “I am really upset/angry/etc…”
  • Model anger control. Slow things down and take time to cool off.
  • Do not criticize your spouse in front of yor child with permanent and pervasive labels. (“Your father is always ….”)
  • If you criticize your partner where your child might overhear, use language that criticizes specific behaviours rather than the global personality.
  • Do not give your spouse the silent treatment and think your child won’t notice.
  • Do not ask a child to choose sides between parents.
  • Do not begin an argument or conflict with your spouse or friend in front of your child unless you plan to finish it in the same conversation.
  • Resolve conflicts and make up where your child can observe. This will show him that conflict is a natural part of love and relationships, and that conflicts can be resolved. If he never sees you resolve an argument, he will not know how to do it himself.
  • Leave your child out of some issues. Have an agreement with your spouse or partner that you will avoid certain topics when any children are present.

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Joanne Says:

    For more on communication skills, check out a new book by Dick Fetzer called PLEASE LISTEN TO ME! It is a practical guide to learning the skill of reflective listening. Includes a section on listening to young children. Find it on any online bookstore or go to the publisher at http://www.WinePressBooks.com

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