How we parents communicate and demonstrate conversations with our children speaks louder than any intention or goal. A family coach or parenting consultant trains parents and family members in communications skills. How are your communications skills?
Not Like This
"Caron, speak up." My father screamed. Other statements he used were....
"Quit mumbling. Stop mumbling. You are driving me nuts."
"STOP the mumbling.
My father was a man with a hearing loss, probably acquired from his stent of service in the second world war. He boasted how he was lucky to be alive despite the shard of metal in his skull. He drank a lot which often resulted in being a happy drunk until he couldn't hear what one of his children said. Then, his short fuse resulted in the not-so-nice screaming bout.
The story of my father demonstrates how truly important it is to establish two-way communication within families. Two-way communication implies two people are speaking, but also listening, as well as respecting opinions and solutions. Two-way communication suggests that listening receives as much respect as speaking.
Communication styles are characterized by the way people want to appear and be heard:
People want to look (or attempt to appear) a certain way when communicating. For example, it was necessary to my father that he raised his voice and corrected me because he was the "boss."
Unclear, poor communication leaves family members unhappy and lonely. If your communication skills are lacking, then a family member may be miserable and feel alone. The following consultant's tips can help you improve the opportunities for being heard, speaking your truth, and inviting conversations with your children.
Ten Right-Way Communication Skills for the Home
Fostering a more favorable environment in your home includes offering opportunities for discussions and space for disagreements, Try these communication strategies
1. Be open and honest with one another. While being honest, be kind when saying something that may cause a family member any distress. Children are more receptive to calm voices, kind words, and tone of voice, but then, isn't everyone?
2. Have some fun each day. Family fun doesn't have to take up a lot of time. It can be as simple as having ice cream cones or playing with your pets. Simple tasks or rituals make a significant difference in how the communication flows in a home, mainly when people are engaged in functions together.
3. Set priorities for chores that everyone must do. Agree on who does what chores and when they should do them, so everyone participates in age-appropriate tasks. Write them on a chore chart ahead of time to prevent arguments! What worked best for my family was to set aside 30 minutes when all family members cleaned a room, the least of which was owning and removing each one's paraphernalia.
4. Keep privacy boundaries. Adults and kids both need their privacy on a regular basis. Ensure that the kids understand the importance of respecting this priority. A parent consultant can speak with your children and help them define their personal boundaries.
5. Have a family meeting each week to discuss family issues. Find a time in which everyone in the family can attend. Hold the meeting every week, preferably at the same time. In the meeting, let each family member speak their mind, even if it's a complaint. Solve challenges, run ideas by each other, and make plans for the future together.
6. Allow free time. Everyone needs some time to do things on their own or with their friends. Meeting this need will help each family member feel more satisfied, fulfilled, and open to communicating.
7. Spend holidays and special events together as a family. Strengthen your family bond with special occasion family traditions. Let the kids share their ideas about the occasion, too.
8. Establish a weekly family night. Make time just to enjoy being together. Watch movies, play games, or have story time. Encourage laughter and open communication.
9. Learn to negotiate. Learning to compromise and come up with win-win solutions for everyone involved is a priceless skill that will serve your family members well throughout their lives.
10. Say, "I love you." The best consultant I worked with in a school setting always repeated: "Each day, remember to show your spouse and kids how much you love them. Share loving, encouraging words and hugs freely throughout the day - even if it's a hard day, especially if it's a hard day!"
A happy home promotes a supportive place to live, play, and look forward to the future! A comfortable home welcomes your loved ones when they return from work or other outings. They can leave the stresses of the outside world behind as they enter the warm sanctuary of home. Practice these communication strategies to create an inviting environment in your home because you shape the foundation for your child's ability to get along in life.
My ideal client is between 35 and 65. She may be married or divorced with one or two children. She is middle class, educated, and lives in a middle-to-upper class neighborhood.
She has always been financially independent. She owns her own business or would like to have a part-time business of her own. She is discerning with money, though will rarely spend it on herself unless it’s for a practical reason.
She makes lists and likes to be able to cross everything off her list, even though there is often more there than she can achieve. She compares her achievements to others as a way of gauging her worth. She often is overcritical of herself and lacks compassion for herself, though finds it for others.
She grew up in an environment where she had to take on responsibilities too early, which forced her to put aside her creative, spontaneous side and lose touch with her own needs and intuition. As a result, she is an over-responsible, independent, strong adult. She is dependable and tries to be there for others, whether it is in her best interest or not. She is overly loyal and often takes care of others because she feels like she should because nice people do that.
She follows the rules. She lives a lot in her own head and is afraid of making the wrong decision. She is a thinker and analyzer. As a result, she has lost touch with her own feelings and needs.
She has difficulty setting boundaries with others until circumstances become extreme. When she does set a boundary, she feels guilty and often softens the boundary or changes it to suit the other person. She says “yes” when she doesn’t want to, then feels resentful. She doesn’t have a good sense of self-worth and therefore has difficulty honoring herself.
She’s unaware of her own values and using them as a way of navigating life or making decisions. She makes decisions out of fear or guilt. Only when she feels she’s been pushed too far will she get angry and lash out or finally give herself what she wants.
She is a busy person who experiences free-floating anxiety during quiet moments. She tries to get out of these feelings by staying busy, eating, or distracting herself with Internet activities. She is afraid to feel “negative” feelings for fear they will lead to something bad or shut her down completely. She is knowledgeable about positive thinking and feels guilty or fearful if she isn't thinking constructively. She has a spiritual reference (God, the Universe, Spirit, Higher Self) and may engage in a spiritual practice. She has trouble with meditation because her mind is constantly busy. She loves self-help books, psychology, and spirituality (especially relationship books, Law of Attraction, and codependency). She loves to read or learn about these things so she can fix her problems. When an issue arises, a book or self-help source soothes her. She feels in control of the problem.
She is afraid to let go of control. She has difficulty relaxing and will often need to eat, drink, or distract herself with Internet use to relax. She is constantly thinking about the future and the next moment. She’d like to have more fun or nurturing activities, but can’t give herself permission or justify them. She often feels overwhelmed and drained. Her feelings seem to vacillate between anxious and depressed. She can be found working on her computer either from home or at coffee shops, running errands, and taking care of the people in her life. She enjoys bookstores and self-growth classes. She has a creative side, though it is undeveloped and not given priority. She has a worldly cause she believes in that she may or may not be aware of yet. She enjoys people and has friends, but doesn’t make relationships a priority – this can be because of lack of time or lack of energy.
She has difficulty trusting or being intimate with men. She often attracts untrustworthy or needy men. (Or this could describe her relationship to a husband.)
Her greatest desire is to learn to love herself. She realizes she doesn’t treat herself well and wants to change. Yet she feels caught in shame or guilt when taking steps toward this.
She is tired of feeling anxious and depressed. She wants to feel better about herself and her relationships but does not know how, despite the self-help books.
She is attracted to my sense of self-acceptance, non-judgment, safety, optimism, and trust in myself and a Higher Power for my safety and future.
She is ready to work with me because she sees my story and wants the balance and security I’ve achieved within myself. She feels seen and safe.
I offer her a place to begin to get to know her own feelings and emotions without fear. I show her how to feel her feelings in a way that will allow, heal them, and lead her to hear her own Inner Voice. She feels encouraged to listen to and take action toward her own needs and self-care. She experiences more self-love, self-compassion, and self-trust.
She feels more settled in her body and is able to feel good about herself and her decisions. When she makes a mistake, she sees the growth and good without shame. Though life may present her challenges, she feels more confident in herself and in life to take care of her. She is able to be with others in a way that allows her to be real and unafraid. She is able to lovingly set boundaries. Her relationship with herself and others are healthier because she is different inside. She now honors herself and is able to present with others in a way that honors them.
New ideas and desires arise in her as a result. She is more in touch with her body, needs, and emotions. She knows more of what she needs and where her limits are. She knows herself and how to take care of herself under stress. She has the resources, tools, and knowledge to handle her life. She can hear own Inner Voice and feels empowered to take risks towards what she desires.
Traditionally, many school-aged children love school and look forward to start of a new school year. But for other children, it’s also a time of great stress. In fact, stress—those overwhelming feelings of doubt about ourselves or our ability to handle things—is as common in children as adults.
The greatest challenge to parents today is teaching children to manage stress effectively. Children may react to excess stress with behavior that seems immature, inappropriate, or even disturbing. One child exhibits anxiety and tears the night before going back to school. Another child speaks of new teacher and asks her parents questions while trying to imagine the teacher's personality. Another child enjoys shopping for school clothes and looks forward to seeing new friends.
Stress can be terrifying to children who lack the emotional maturity or experience to understand and deal with it. The challenge for parents, teachers, and other caretakers include how to recognize signs of stress in children of different ages, how to know when stress threatens to overwhelm a child, and what to do about it.
In Nurture Your Child’s Gift, I offer excellent suggestions to help parents cope with their children’s stress. A stressed-out condition can result from a specific cause or from life in general. Here are some examples:
At 17, Jen was a high school senior expecting to graduate with honors in the Spring. Just before Christmas, however, Jen’s father lost his job and the family had to move into the basement of a cousin’s house. Jen soon developed a severe allergy, then asthma. The illness cost her so much time from school that she required home-schooling to make up the difference.
Mark was only two when his parents divorced. Confused, Mark wandered the house, calling plaintively for his father, but weekends with Dad made him cry. Most weekends, Mark developed upset stomachs that were so bad he’d miss preschool on Mondays.
Toddlers need to feel safe and comfortable. Stress for preschool children can arise from a new face at home or at day care, the disappearance of a familiar face, visiting lots of new places at once, or abrupt changes in the family’s structure, relationships or daily routine. During the grade-school years, children become concerned with pleasing people like teachers, parents, guardians and coaches. School life—even a change in assigned seating or having to take a test—brings higher levels of stress every year. And when it comes to peers, even the threat of diminished acceptance is terrifying. Sleep-overs, birthday parties, sporting events and music competitions can trigger stressful reactions. Through middle school and beyond, the pressures kids feel from parents, teachers, peers, society at large, and from within increases. Children have to learn adapt to these pressures. Because they have grown in their intelligence, curiosity and knowledge of community, demands for their attention, time, energy and effort can often feel like a tug of war. As in the cases of Mark and Jen, it is not unusual for life-altering events to express themselves in illness. At the University of Missouri, for instance, researcher Mark Flinn found that a child’s risk of upper-respiratory infection increases by 200 percent for the seven days following a high-stress event. And parents like Miranda’s might confuse what they believe are normal behavior with an expression of anxiety. Children often display their tensions in small acts that have aggressive undertones.
How You Can Help
There are many ways parents can help their children deal with stress and stressful situations.
Don’t try to fix everything for the child, and avoid offering advice. Sometimes just listening so that your child feels truly heard may be enough to relieve the stress.
As you listen, ask questions that encourage your child to think a situation through. “What’s the next step?” or “How would you handle that?” are good questions. Ask a lot of “what-if” questions, too.
Help children listen to themselves. Nurture Your Child’s Gift suggests quiet-time techniques for children to listen to nature sounds like rain or waves upon the beach, to their own heartbeat, or to recordings of whales, dolphins or birds.
Encourage children to spend time listening to their thoughts. When they feel free to speak their own thoughts aloud about a situation, things suddenly become clear.
Nurture Your Child’s Gift details a diaphragmatic breathing exercise for kids and parents. Shallow breathing is associated with the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Deeper, effective breathing produces feelings of relaxation and calm.
Use soothing and rhythmic music, even simple drumming, to help your child relieve muscle tension. It works!
Don’t overlook exercise for releasing stress and tension. It works for your child just as it does for you. Have children walk the dog, get on the treadmill or stretch through easy yoga movements for children. Any movement they enjoy will help ease stress away.
Parents can do much to alleviate stress in their children’s lives. Effectively dealing with your own stress is the first step. Showing your kids how to release their stress comes next.
My Family Coach didn't have cliche, immediate answers to my questions about managing a toddler's outbursts. Instead, she asked me more questions about values and viewpoints. When we finished the discussion, i realized I was in complete harmony with my parenting values. Her viewpoint allowed me to talk through my fears of parenting too strictly.
Every day in your families, you may operate from the perspective of doing the best you know how to do in dealing with the challenges and opportunities. That is so true for everyone, even your coach, who probably came to her profession because of similar experiences. Would you choose to work with a coach If you knew you could and would be...
More effective in relationships,
More productive with your time.
Better focused on your goals
More successful in communication
If you knew you could accomplish your goal, then you would alter your behavior to correspond with these insights. Your family coach supports your breakthrough and speeds up your learning curve.
You Are Limited By What You Do and Don't Know
The only access you ordinarily have to change and to influence your family comes from these two areas:
1. What you know
2. What you don’t know
In efforts to achieve more or be a better person, you might learn to do something better, or try a different way you heard or read about. You try again a strategy that worked for you before. This is all good. The problem is that it doesn’t stick. The small increments of progress are just that….small, yet they can be powerful if they give you a new skill, relevant understanding, and a next step.
That is where the Family Coach enters the scenario. Few of us can make the changes personally we desire without help. We need feedback, another viewpoint, advice, a listener, a person who questions how we will get there and what will we have accomplished in our parenting.
Here is the success secret that few parents know:
Extraordinary growth comes from outside the area called “you don’t know” – your blind spots.
Imagine the big bubble right outside of your reach filled with a vast array of unusual, new ideas and advice you seek. However, you could be blind to the giant bubble of answers.
Very few family coaches will tell you what to do. In one sense, that rips off your self-discovery process for yourself and all the family members.
Instead, coaches listen, feel, observe, and ask to help you go to the inner bubble of personal knowing ---THAT is your unknown, unseen wisdom waiting to rise to the top.
You wouldn’t let your child climb on to a bike he doesn’t know how to ride without helping him balance, pedal and practice until he has a feel for the bike.
You stay balanced with a family coach until you feel the thrill of success just like your child careens downhill on his bike with hands in the air, “Wheeeeee.”
That is the thrill of accomplishment. Your child felt joyful at self-discovery, As a parent, you go through self-discovery too.
How can a consultant or coach help us adjust our mindset for more positive outcomes? it is the half-full or half-empty glass kind of metaphor...
Negativity can discourage us:
add to our stress,
put a strain on our relationship,
make us less productive, and
reduce our overall happiness.
A positive mindset, on the other hand, has many benefits across our lives regarding our health, relationships, and careers.
But, how do you become more positive? Is it that simple? Take a moment to listen to this brief audio reminder:
Five steps to developing a more positive mindset:
1. Keep a thought journal
If you have a negative internal dialogue continually keeping you down, you need to take action to banish these thoughts. If you have difficulty identifying this negativity a simple first action can be keeping a thought journal. Write down a random sample of ideas in your mind about yourself, events, people around you, and other events that happen throughout your day.
Then analyze these thoughts by reviewing the journal every night and establishing your thought patterns towards a positive mindset.
Do specific events trigger your negative thoughts? Take note of these and the next time you face a triggering situation, review carefully how you are approaching it.
2. Banish negative self-talk
After keeping track of your thoughts for a week or two, you will notice how consuming your negative thoughts can be. The next step is to banish these all together. Next time you write down negative thoughts in your journal, rephrase the wording so that it becomes a neutral statement.
"Bob forgot to take out the trash again so I had to do it and it ruined my evening."
“Bob forgot to take out the trash. I did it. instead."
This step is a small but effective way to train yourself. Don’t do this exercise only on paper or in your journal. Begin to rephrase your negative thoughts into neutral phrases in your mind. The practice will become automatic and significantly reduces your anxiety.
3. See the positive side
To jump straight from negative into positive thoughts is a challenge and the reason why the neutral-thought stage is crucial. By banishing negative self-talk, you are in an excellent position to see different, genuine positivity in situations.
Refer back to your thought journal and examine again the negative thoughts you have had. For each negative view, can you transform it into at least one positive, upbeat equivalent?
For example, if you dislike a person because they speak poorly to you, think about how you are developing more resilience. What is the positive from that contrary position?
It can be hard to find benefits within challenging circumstances, but there is always a way to see something good.
As the Dalai Lama once said, “See the positive side, the potential, and make an effort.” Sometime, a lot of effort might be required, but it’s worth it!
4. Keep a gratitude journal
A gratitude journal is an incredible way to take stock of all of the beautiful things around you. Every evening you write down the sound, positive aspects of your day. In general, what are you grateful for and why?
Perhaps you are grateful to your friends for their support, for the warm bed where you sleep well, or for the great weather you had that day. Write down all the positives.
When I started a gratitude journal, I found my mind arguing with me and contradicting my positive statements. What I learned from exploring this is when I don't sleep well, the mind complains the next day without fail. Further research indicated that this is a typical pattern, but few people recognize the link between lack of sleep and mental angst or complaints.
5. Learn your sleep habits
This is a sure-fire way to re-ground you, make you gain perspective and make you realize how insignificant that particular trigger may be in the larger scheme of things. Context is essential, so keep shifting your mind towards the positive.
Practicing these four simple thoughts can help you transform how you perceive the world around you. Positive perception has the power to change your life, improving your attitudes and the ways that you respond to stress triggers.[Be patient and keep working at positivity, as it has so many benefits for your life, so make the most of it!