Since my early twenties I struggle with communication, with true listening, that’s why for the past 3 years my yearly goal was to work hard on “LISTENING to UNDERSTAND, not in order to respond“.

The older I get I’ve come to realize that my struggle often lies in my emotional reactions, especially when the conversation becomes triggering or fear-inducing.

It’s not easy to hold back the immediate impulse to react when emotions are running high. This realization prompted me to take a step back and reflect on how I could improve my communication especially with my children and loved ones. I want to make it safe for them to approach me about any topic.

Recently, I decided to put pen to paper and compile a list of key factors that I believed could transform the way I approached difficult conversations.

I knew it was time to address my reactivity and create a safe space for open dialogue. It was a commitment to change that I was willing to make, even if some of my children are adults already. It’s never late to start. (I HOPEπŸ™)

I discovered that this path was not about perfection but about progress. It was about acknowledging my limitations and actively working on them.

I want to share my journey with you. I hope that by opening up about my struggles and the steps I’ve taken to overcome them, I can provide insights and inspiration to those who, like me, would like to create a more open and understanding environment for communication, even if the journey begins when your children are no longer children.

Active listening is the cornerstone of effective communication. It involves being fully present when your child speaks. Maintain eye contact, nod, and use non-verbal cues to show that you’re genuinely attentive. These signals encourage them to express themselves openly and honestly. (very hard for people with ADHD)

Empathy plays a pivotal role in making children feel safe during difficult conversations. Express understanding and compassion towards their emotions. Let them know that it’s okay to feel the way they do, even if it differs from your own feelings. This validation helps them feel heard and respected.

Avoid passing judgment or criticism during the conversation. Instead, create an atmosphere where they feel comfortable sharing without fearing negative consequences. A non-judgmental attitude encourages them to be more forthcoming.

βœ…Open and Honest Communication: (I’m getting really good at this, I actually think this is my superpower).
Model honesty by sharing your thoughts and feelings as well. This transparency fosters trust and encourages reciprocity in the conversation. When you’re open about your own experiences, it can make it easier for them to share theirs.

βœ… Avoid Reactivity: (BRUTALLY difficult for me)
As a parent or caregiver, it can be tough to hear things that challenge your views or beliefs. However, it’s essential to avoid reacting impulsively, defensively, or angrily. Take a moment to compose yourself before responding thoughtfully. This approach teaches children that you’re a safe space for them to express themselves.

βœ… Encourage Questions: (This comes naturally to me, because I truly want them to understand)
Encourage your child to ask questions and seek clarification if they don’t understand something. This reinforces the idea that their curiosity and concerns are valued and that you’re willing to provide answers and explanations.

βœ… Privacy and Confidentiality:
Assure your child that certain conversations can remain private unless there are safety concerns involved. This helps build trust, knowing that not everything will be shared with others without their consent.

βœ… Problem-Solve Together: (The fun part)
When appropriate, involve your child in finding solutions or compromises. This empowers them to take an active role in resolving issues, teaching valuable problem-solving skills along the way.

βœ… Patience: (oyyyyy, I keep stumbling on this oneπŸ₯Ί).
Be patient during these conversations. Allow your child the time they need to express themselves fully. Sometimes, they may need a bit of time to find the right words or feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings.

Sometimes, not always…
βœ… Follow-Up:
After some conversation, follow up with your child to check how they are feeling and if they have any further questions or concerns. This shows that you care about their well-being beyond the initial discussion. Sometimes follow up can feel overwhelming for the child so maybe give it some time or let them follow up with you. It’s very individual with the child and the topic.

I shared this with my children a while back, they were grateful that I’m working on myself. I asked them to be patient with me and give me some insight if I need some alignment.

What do you do to enhance open and healthy communication with your children or loved ones?

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