Mindful Communication: Powerful Tool to Transform Relationships at Home and School
The way we communicate with children are essential to their progress both at school and home. One of the best ways to improve their performance, help them grow as communicators, and develop stronger bonds is through mindful communication. This includes being aware of our words, tone, facial expressions, and listening.
These skills are not only important to use when we talk directly to your child(ren). Think of how much your own parents or family members were role models of certain behaviors when you were growing-up. Did you often hear them argue or raise their voices? Did one family member dominate conversations? Or were the adults around you patient, compassionate, active listeners?
Active listening means being engaged in what another is saying without thinking about how to respond. Rather than focusing on what’s circling in your own mind, you become fully immersed in the other speaker, supportive, and understanding.
The natural inclination is to jump in and solve the speaker’s problem. And when it comes to kiddos, it might seem natural to be their protector all the time. However, emotional intelligence is developed when a toddler is allowed permission to give words to their feelings and be heard. Try practicing this technique at home with other adults as well as with your child.
“EARS” Active Listening:
Eye contact — Varies with cultures, so use as you see fit.
Acknowledge that you are listening and ask open-ended questions — Nod, then say “mm-hmm... (ask a question without a yes or no answer) _______?”
Reflect feelings — “Sounds like you’re feeling (or you felt) _________.”
Say in your own words what you heard and ask for confirmation — “So you think or feel that (rephrase your child's words) __________. Is that right?”
Maybe you set aside family time each week to practice with your child(ren) this new set of skills. Start by taking a few slow, deep breaths together. Then engage each other in mindful communication. Over time, it will become a daily habit and has the power to transform your relationships.