It is no secret by now that communication is the main ingredient in all successful relationships. Whether romantic or platonic, relationships crave communication to flourish. The parent-child relationship is no different, and as children enter into middle grades communication sometimes becomes sparse. It is important, however, during these formative years to maintain the channel of communication with children. The United States Department of Education explains ways to keep communication open in an article entitled “Communication – Helping Your Child Through Early Adolescence”.
The article first explains that there is no recipe for successful communication. We, as humans, all communicate in different ways, and this makes it difficult to create any sort of boundaries and guidelines for how to communicate effectively. A mother of two children describes in the article that her daughter is open about the goings on in her life, while the mother’s son is more private. The son loves music and reading, so the mother takes him on trips to bookstores. When he is in his element and comfortable, he opens up to her more. This mother recognizes that her children need different things from her to open up, and she makes this happen.
Listening is the next piece to the communication puzzle. Often times, your child will discover a solution to a problem they are discussing with you just by talking about it aloud. The article also suggests that the less a parent offers advice the more the child will seek the parent’s advice. Listening is important. It can also uncover a deeper issue that may need your attention.
One of the more difficult things to achieve when communicating with your child is a firm level of calm. By remaining calm when they open up, you’re showing your child respect, which will keep them coming back to you. The article says that if your teen admits to trying beer, it is best to ask them how they feel about what they did rather than flying off the handle. By overreacting, the child will react by yelling or shutting down. Either way, communication has ended, and they are not likely to open up to you again. By encouraging your child to express their feelings on what they have done, you are engaging them in continued communication and can express your disappointment in their decisions without yelling.
The role of a parent is forever changing. As children get older, they become less and less dependent on their parents. As parents, it is important to allow growing children some independence while maintaining the status of rule maker and enforcer. Communication is a fundamental part of the ever changing parent-child relationship. The article offers many other pieces of advice and can be found here https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/help/adolescence/part6.html .