Creative Spark! Let younger or creative kids communicate by drawing an aspect of their day. Crafting something with play-doh, or by some other creative outlet, as you have time. Use just a few random conversation starter cards that you and your kids picked out ahead of time. You can find these online for free and for sale, or just write your own.
Bite your Tongue! Again, I have learned the hard way, as failure is a good teacher. There have been times when I have immediately regretted the words that have come out of my mouth. If like many children, yours says negative things about himself, it does not help to be negative about the comments or other things said under their breath. It is too easy to want to jump to conclusions dawning our judgmental parental mantle to right a wrong. Bite your tongue. Your son or daughter is speaking out of hurt and pain, it’s time for reconciliation not retaliation. Whether they are saying they are “stupid” a “retard” or speaking rudely to a spouse, they likely don’t really mean it,… give them space and come back and calmly discuss why they hurt.
Fact Finding. Many times we don’t have all the answers. But we think we do., ask questions and gather all the facts you can before you jump to conclusions. Blaming first and asking questions later is a poor way to handle things and destroy the trust your child has in your and the trust you believe you have in them.
Mountains or Molehills. We do need to demonstrate clear boundaries of right and wrong. The concept of “What’s true of you may not be what’s right for you.” and “Don’t judge” is utter nonsense. There is a standard of right and wrong, but let’s not make mountains out of molehills, work to judge rightly, with an honesty that demonstrates that you are not the picture of perfection either! If your kids feel like they will not be judged, in a negative sense, then they will feel free to talk to you about the tough stuff, especially when they get older.
Time and Place for Discipline. I am not a yeller and I am not one to “spank” my kid,… I would prefer to talk things out. Help my kid reconstruct events, how they went awry, and learn from them. Someday however, I am wondering how well this works. That being said. There is a time and place for discipline. I am not angry by nature, but I have still found myself wishing I had given us both a cool down period before going in “Guns Blazing” to right the wrongs my kid has committed. Take a breath, pray for guidance, think about all the reason your love your kid, pray for him or her, then go in and love your kid through the problem.
An Open or Close Case. What kind of questions are you using? Questions that start with “why” may sound offensive and tend to put kids (especially teens) on the defensive. Stay from “Closed” questions, these are questions that can be answered with a simple one word answer, such as “yes”, or “no”. “Open” questions encourage conversation. Also, don’t use the typical predictable questions such as “How was school today?” Get out of the box! Ask who did you sit by at lunch today (And why)? What did most like about going to P.E. today? What was something funny that happened at school today?
Learn to say Sorry. Learn to admit you blew it by saying sorry when you make a mistake, yell, say the wrong thing, lose your temper, are hypocritical or just plain handle things poorly. Let your kids know you are sorry and are working to be a better parent. Remember they are not perfect and neither are you, so be a parent of grace!
After you have spent some time talking with your kid(s), look back and reflect on what went well and what went poorly. It is important for you and critical for your relationship with your kids that you pinpoint your failings (yes you have some) and mistakes as a parent in this regard.