How to Communicate Well with Your Child
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a tutor and coach (and as a human) is to step out from behind my assumptions and expectations to really see and hear the person in front of me with curiosity and compassion. In a nutshell, this is practicing mindful communication. It isn’t easy and it requires being vulnerable. But it is completely worth it and I can attest that it has transformed my interactions with others. So how does mindful communication work?
Here are some steps I have adapted from The Way of Mindful Education by Daniel Rechtschaffen. You can use these whenever you are having a conversation, whether it is engaging or difficult.
- Be present.
- Notice how your body feels as you listen.
- Really listen instead of thinking of what you will say next.
- Notice how what the other person is saying makes you feel.
- If you feel stuck, angry, or upset, welcome those feelings and don't judge yourself. They are normal reactions to difficult conversations. Have compassion for how you are feeling, whatever the feeling is.
- When the other person finishes speaking, don’t respond immediately. Breathe and check in with how you feel. Then, respond with “I” statements about how what they said made you feel. Mirror what they said. Example: “I heard you say you are upset about how I reacted to your missing assignments. When you said that, I felt frustrated. I would like to help you brainstorm ways to make a different choice the next time you have an assignment due.”
- As much as possible, share what is true in your heart.
As Rechtschaffen says, one of the most crucial pieces here is to be willing to be wrong. Look at it like a wonderful learning strategy that will help you have better communication in the future. Stepping back from having to be right opens up the possibility of a new perspective or understanding for both people involved in the conversation. This process can feel strange at first, but like anything, with practice it will get easier.