If you show your children you love and understand them, your relationship will be wonderful. Our parenting expert and author, Ellen Galinsky, is sharing an excerpt from her book, Mind in the Making. Let's find out 4 ways we can show we understand our children. We'll also learn 3 pieces of hopeful advice from them.
Help Children Feel Known and Understood:
An Exercise: Think Back to Your Childhood
Can you remember a time when you felt known and understood? What did the adult do to make you feel that way? How did you react? Can you think of a time when you felt misunderstood? What did the adult do to make you feel that way? How did you react?
I remember a particular moment in my childhood when I was trying to get away with something and my father made it clear to me that he knew exactly what trick I was up to. He stopped me, but not in an angry or mean way. I don't remember his words, but I do remember a comforting feeling, even though I was being disciplined.
In an Ask the Children study I conducted on how kids feel about their working parents, I asked children: "What would you like to tell the working parents of America?' The response of many, in essence, was Understand me":
1. (Parents should) try to communicate with their children more because in today's society a lot of parents don't even know what is going on with their children.
2. Don't be afraid to talk with your kids. They may act like they don't want you talking to them, but it is actually very important that you do.
Remember, as one child put it:
3. You are not your children-respect and understand our viewpoints and needs.
Children who don't have any adults who they feel "know" them or who are "there for them" have a harder time connecting with others as adults...
To help younger and older children feel known and understood:
1. Repeat back your child's words or what you think your child is trying to communicate: "You are hungry."
2. Describe what you see going on, as if you're a sportscaster: "You threw that ball all the way across the yard!"
3. Ask a question: "Did you like that book we just read? Why did you like/not like it?"
4. Let them know you're been there: "I know how that feels."(From pages 92-94)
Ellen Galinsky, with few words, tells us 2 important truths we must not forget:
1. Children might not remember our words but they do remember how we made them feel.
2. When we help our children feel known and understood, the closeness and love we create with them is wonderful.
To find out how to talk about your feelings and those of your child's, pick up Ellen's book and start on page 95.
Let's PRAISE Ellen Galinsky for writing such a helpful and easy to understand parenting book. Your advice today, Ellen, is priceless.
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Jean Tracy, MSS
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