Sunday, November 13, 2011

Eight Tips for Improving Communication with Your Kids

Are you content in the thought that your communication with your kids is spot on, or do you worry that you might be missing the mark? If your interface is overwrought with emotion, you might need these tips to gain a more peaceful relationship with your children.
Be Your Word. 

Everything you say to your children is a promise or an agreement. Do what you say you're going to do and you build trust. Trust carries you through when they're sixteen years old, driving around with their friends and you don't know what they're doing. 

There was a recent article about the Florida football team which was about to go into the National Championship game against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida had a new coach named Urban Meyer. Everyone agreed he had turned the program around. Their season had dramatically improved, even though they essentially had the same talent and schedule. So what was the difference? 

To a man, they all emphasize the fact that the new coach had built a greater sense of trust among the players and coaches. They discussed some of his techniques. There were things like practices at midnight and certain competitions he had dreamed up. The important point was he had created a high level of trust. 

Your children will be tempted, and since you won't be there looking over their shoulder, you have to instill character in them. The first step in instilling character is that they see character in you. You are their role model. 

Be 100% Responsible 

Having integrity means being 100% responsible for everything in your life. It means giving up your reasons and your excuses. Every truly successful person I know lives their life as though they are 100% responsible for everything in their life. 

At first blush, many people think this is ridiculous or unrealistic. Other people get the concept but they don't really live it. This may at first sound like a burden; in reality it's a freedom. 

When you really get that you are 100% responsible for everything in your life, it's a tremendously freeing experience. It allows you to create your life. This idea isn't just some quotation you can read and pooh. It's real. Think about it: if you're not responsible, if you don't have control over your own life, then you're just a victim and whatever makes you unhappy will always make you unhappy because you can't change it, get rid of it. I know you can see this truth. 

Be Genuine 

This means being straightforward in your communications and take what you get. This means don't use force or manipulation as a way of trying to get what you want. We know that we can't control other people. When you really understand that and accept it, you'll stop trying to manipulate or force others into achieving the results that you want. Force and manipulation will, at best, only get you a temporary result. Human beings always resist force and manipulation. Force and manipulation are really a product of fear. 

When my children were young and they told their mom they wanted to live with Dad all the time, her response was to tell them that if they did that she would disown them. Obviously, I knew she wouldn't disown them and I told them that. But she got what she wanted temporarily. They went back to live with her for a month. But in short order, they realized Mom wasn't really going to leave them and then they moved into my house permanently. 

Be Free 

Learn to give up being right. How many times have we used that as justification for our actions? 

When I say give up being right, I'm not saying forget about the concept of right and wrong. It's incredibly important to teach your children the difference between right and wrong. Giving up being right really relates to the whole idea of control. More specifically, it deals with the fact that you don't control anyone else. If you're having an argument with your ex or you're mad at them because you're right and they're wrong, this has nothing to do with making them right and you wrong. It has nothing to do with forgetting about right and wrong. It doesn't meant that you have to give in to the. I just means you aren't going to convince them that you're right. It just means, let it go. Again, think long term. Think what will be effective and what your kids are seeing as you interface with your ex. 

Be Courageous 

Always deal with issues with your children head-on. My daughters told me throughout high school that their friends were always amazed at all the things they could talk to me about. My daughters would tell me "My girlfriends are amazed about the things I tell you." Of course, I was forced into this because there was no mom around. The result is that my kids can talk to me about anything - sex, drugs, rock-n-roll. However, our goal here is to raise these children so they become productive and healthy young adults. 

When you communicate clearly and openly with your children and develop trust they will come to you with the important issues in their life. Be their guide. You are their anchor. You want them talking to you, not their friends. 

Be Peaceful 

This comes back to being accepting about what you're really trying to achieve. Don't take the easy way out. Develop an early warning system. What are the things in your relationship with your children that irritate, aggravate or anger you? Think about what it is that really angers you. 

Whatever you think it is, it really isn't that. Now you think I'm talking nonsense. Let me give you an example. When my daughters were in high school I used to get really aggravated when they would leave the bathroom a mess. Typically, they would spend hours in the bathroom, doing what girls do, so that they could leave and be beautiful and get to that party. They would make a half-hearted attempt to clean up the bathroom and boom, they were out the door. I'd go upstairs, take one look at the bathroom and become angry because the sink was a mess and the towels were just lying on the floor. 

On its face, I was angry because they left the bathroom a mess. When I really analyzed it, I knew I was mad at myself because I was failing as a parent to modify their behavior. That's what I mean when I say, look at whatever it is that upsets you and whatever you think it is, it's not really that. 

Be Powerful 

Don't be cynical; be inspiring. Act in a way that they are touched and that you make a difference in their lives. A last work about complete ownership: I've repeatedly talked about being responsible in your life. Successful parents are responsible. Responsibility in this context is not a burden. It's not something you have to do, like pay the bills. It's not about fault or blame. It's not about guilt of shame. It's not about getting credit. It isn't all about your ability to understand things or to say if a thing is moral or ethical. It's not about what's good or bad. 

Being responsible means being wiling to deal with a situation in your life from the view that you are the creator of your life and of what you do. No one makes you responsible and you don't make anyone else responsible. It's a gift you give yourself. 

Pass this lesson on to your children. Teach them to be responsible for themselves. Again, not a burden - acknowledge that they determine the consequences of their lives. 

Take Nothing Personally 

In all of your relationships, in all of your communications, take nothing personally. Observe the world around you. Notice how often people get offended. Look for it. As an experiment, see how many times you can notice someone being offended in a single day. The more you observe it as an outsider, the more comical it becomes. People act like little kids. 

Don't be like everyone else. Step back and be an observer. Watch how people interact with each other. You'll find it humorous. The more you observe it in other people, the more humorous it is, the funnier it becomes, and the more quickly you'll realize when you're doing it, you'll be able to stop. 

If you want your children to turn out great, your success in parenting and your communication with your kids will both benefit from using these tips.

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