Parenting Vivian | 20 Mar 2010 08:17 pm

Listening – The Best Way to Communicate

One of the biggest challenges you will face as your children get older is keeping a healthy, open relationship. The key to any relationship is communication. We all know how important it is to talk to our kids, especially about tough issues like bullying, peer pressure, and safety. But it is equally important, perhaps more so, to listen to your children. Listening and taking an interest in their conversation can bring you closer and keep you close as they get older.

Good communication with your children should start almost as soon as they learn to talk. As they go through their “why” phase-”Why is the sky blue?” “Why does Tommy have different color skin than me?”-it is important to give them honest answers in a way they can understand, even if it may make you a little uncomfortable. Doing so earns their trust so that they feel comfortable coming to you for answers.

No matter how insignificant a problem your child has may seem to you, it is important to give it proper consideration. By listening to their problems and helping them work them out or asking the right questions to enable them to work the problems out for themselves, you are encouraging them to come to you whenever they have a problem. It important that they feel like they can go to you when something is wrong, especially important as your children get older and the issues they face get more difficult and dangerous.

With everyone’s busy schedules it’s important to get the most out of the time you have with your kids. Asking them about their day at dinner or turning off the TV for a half an hour can help keep your line of communication open. Since you may not always be in the same place at the same time as your kids, sometimes it’s necessary to plan ahead to spend time together. Taking your son on a fishing trip or hitting the mall with your daughter can provide time for fun and conversation. Pay attention to details and ask follow up questions. Sometimes it’s easy to ask, “how was your day” without even paying attention to the answer. Asking them for details will show them that you are truly interested in what they have to say.

Listening to your kids gives you insight into their world. Ask them what music they like, what they like to do for fun with their friends and what’s considered cool or uncool. They may think you are uncool for not knowing, but they will appreciate your interest all the same. It will help you get to know your children better as their likes and dislikes change. Don’t be afraid to introduce the topics of drugs and alcohol. If you start talking about the dangerous effects of substance abuse when they are young, it will be a no-brainer when the time comes to say no. They will know what the right decision is, and that will give them the courage they need to stand up to peer pressure.

No matter what the issue, whether your six-year-old feels bad about himself because he’s a slow reader or your ten-year-old wants to know why she can’t wear makeup like her big sister, it’s important to treat you children’s concerns with the respect that you expect your children to show for you. Listening to their problems, helping them overcome them, and being there whenever they just need to vent can help you maintain a healthy level of communication with your children. They may not tell you everything all the time, but at least they’ll know they can.

Solomon Brenner has been teaching martial arts to children and adults for ten years, and holds a 6th degree black belt in Kenpo Karate. During that time he has held countless seminars on subjects such as self-esteem in children and teens, behavior and discipline, praise vs. punishment, career motivation, goal setting, parenting, and self defense. He has spoken to elementary schools, women’s groups, scouting organizations, civic associations and corporate seminars. Using these experiences, he has recently authored Black Belt Parenting, a motivational how-to book for parents. Please visit

Comments are closed.