Whilst children may be young and inexperienced it doesn’t mean they are lesser human beings. A good relationship with your kids is the utopia for most parents, but the kids aren’t always reading the same book as you – and sometimes developing a good relationship seems impossible, especially when hormones kick in and they hit their teens.
The secret of building that relationship is mindfulness. It’s a bit of a buzz word, but it simply means giving attention to something or someone. In today’s busy world with information flying at us from every direction it’s easy to have conversations with our family that we not only aren’t concentrating on, but can’t recall any of the detail later.
You’ll recognise situation when you’re trying to get everyone out of the door in the morning, trying to check homework is done, everyone has lunch, keys, bags and briefcases, not to mention breakfast isn’t the ideal time for a deep conversation (but kids aren’t known for picking the perfect time)!
It’s all too easy to think ‘I’ll get back to this later’ and then find you’ve forgotten or life has got in the way. It’s a sad fact that the people you love the most often get the least attention.
If you’re aware that your child wants to talk or has something to say – don’t wave them away and say ‘later’. Acknowledge them and tell them you realise they have something to say – and ask if it’s really urgent, urgent enough to take precedence over everything else. If they say ‘yes’, trust that it’s really important to them and make time.
Otherwise book an appointment when you will give them 100% of your attention and stick to it. One of the most frustrating things that kids hear their parents say is ‘later’ – and they begin to disconnect until they stop wanting to tell you anything.
Inevitably teenage hormones do kick in at some point and some perfectly amiable children become the teenager from hell, but it doesn’t last forever and becoming an ogre of a parent won’t make it any better. Learn to take a deep breath, try to remember your own teenage years and stay calm and – as reasonable as you can (even if they think you’re completely UNreasable!)
Bear in mind that sometimes your kids will push your ‘hot’ button and you won’t respond calmly – but always be ready to apologise later and revisit the issue in a less stressed frame of mind.
When you do have conversations with your kids give them your full attention, understand that something that may seem trivial to you could be of major importance to them and respect that the issue is worth your attention. Treat them as you would another adult – with consideration and respect.