One of the biggest challenges for single fathers these days (parents in general) is communicating effectively with their child. We all strive for open and honest communication but become frustrated when it appears their attention is somewhere else and they aren’t listening. Yet we seem to find it perfectly acceptable to discuss things with them while we are reading the paper, doing the laundry, picking up the house, working on the computer, watching TV and then wonder where the line of communication broke.
Children by nature are easily distracted… some parents too, and not always responsive to what is going on around them. It is our responsibility as a father to emphasize positive patterns of communication and ensure the child learns that ignoring or poor communication is not acceptable.
Early prevention, in the form of educating your child about the proper forms of communication, is the key to ensuring that they grow and understand what you expect from them and how they need to be attentive when you are talking to them – parenting by example.
When you communicate with your child, focus on them completely and the conversation at hand. Turn off the TV, walk away from the computer, allow calls to go to voicemail, or go to an area where there aren’t any distractions.
Talk to your child, and explain to them in age appropriate terms how they are communicating and why their method isn’t working. Tell them how you would like them to communicate in a healthy way and show them what that looks like. Show your child how to communicate effectively, even when the questions are hard or they feel like they may get in trouble.
Active listening for parents is critical. Let them voice their opinion or side of the story and ask questions to endure you understand their viewpoint.
Even though none of us are perfect you need to try and be constant in the manner in which you communicate with your child. Your goal is to send the same message each time you and your child interact. If they slip up and start communicating negatively you need to call attention to it and correct it. If you let them get away with it they will continue… “If you give an inch they will take a mile.”
Kids will be kids and they will sometimes get distracted and be non-communicative. You are the expert in knowing your child’s behavior and can best judge what they need or how to improve their communication. The best way to ensure healthy communication is to model positive communication skills yourself.