5 Tips for Talking with Your Kids
Tip 1 - Validate Your Child's Feelings
When your child knows that you understand and care about how they feel their self esteem and willingness to share increases. To communicate your understanding, validate what your child is feeling. This means showing acceptance of their feelings. It is not necessary that you agree, only that you acknowledge that what they are feeling is very real for them.

When your child says "It's too cold in the house"
Don't say: "The temperature is just fine. Don't whine."
Do say: "I understand you are cold. Would you like to put on your sweater?"

When you child says "I hate Kim"
Don't say: "That's ugly. Don't talk like that"
Do say: "I thought you and Kim were friends. What happened?"

Tip 2 - Give Useful Information
When your child is careless or fails to meet and expectation avoid blaming or accusing. Blaming and accusing creates feelings of low self-worth in your child and pushes them away. Instead describe what you see and give information about your expectations.

When your child tracks mud into the house.
Don't say: You've track mud in the house again, can't you learn to wipe your feet.
Do say: I see muddy footprints. Wipe your feet or take off you shoes before you come in the house.

Tip 3 - Respect the Struggle
Many things are difficult to learn and many tasks require time to master. Sometimes as adults we forget what it was like the first time. When your child is trying to learn something new avoid minimizing the challenge and don't jump in to solve the problem. Children develop confidence by mastering new skills on their own.

When your child is struggling to tie his shoes.
Don't Say: "Oh, that's easy" or "Here, let me do that for you"
Do Say: "That can be hard" or "Learning to tie your shoes takes patience"

Tip 4 - Give Descriptive Praise
Non-descriptive praise provides and evaluation of performance. Even when well intended it can leave your child uncertain about your meaning. Descriptive praise tells what you see and how you feel about what you see. Being descriptive allows your child the opportunity to self evaluate and to engage in self praise that will promote a positive self image.

When you child cleans up a messy room.
Don't say: "What a good girl" or "Wonderful"
Do Say: "I see all the clothes are off the floor. It's a joy to see such a clean room"

Tip 5 - Invite More
Inviting more means avoiding the temptation to jump in with a response or a suggestion. Instead simply create the opportunity for you child to tell you more. When we invite sharing and listen to what is said your child will know that you care and will feel valued.

When your child says "School was yucky today"
Don't say: "Oh come on it couldn't have been that bad"
Do Say: "I see" or "Really?" or "Tell me more"

Material and examples for these tips come from "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk" Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish
Maret Maxwell PhD
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