how to talk to your children


Is there a situation with your child that has shown up time and time again, maybe you’ve tried to lecture your 12-year-old about the hours they spend playing video games, or that your teen keeps coming home way past curfew, or maybe that your toddler does not listen over and over no matter how many times do you ask them to listen?

It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve lectured or told your child about something over and over again, they still don’t listen. It can be so aggravating!

I understand and if situations like this or others have come up constantly in your home. I want to let you know that you are not alone!

Here are 5 steps to have an empowered conversation with your child.

First, I want to address what it means to have an empowered conversation? This might not be something that you’re familiar with or have heard before. So I want to give you a brief overview of what an empowered conversation actually means. Having an empowered conversation provides such a powerful medium for a change! We, as parents can change how we have conversations with our children and we can yield amazing results in their behaviors and their attitudes towards certain boundaries, values, or just the way that your family works.

I like to think of empowering conversations as you’re coming to someone that you are having difficulty talking to, or there’s a kind of hard situation or something that you’ve been noticing in your family or something that your child is doing a lot such as playing video games.

You’ve asked them, lectured them, took away privileges but their behavior, their attitude is just not changing. In a situation like this, having an empowered conversation would be super important. You come into this conversation with curiosity, I like to think of empowering conversations as empathetic conversation, which means you’re coming to the situation stating something that you’ve noticed.

You’re not coming with judgments or any blame or shame you are leaving that at the door. This empowering conversation that you have is going to empower both you and your child or whoever is in the relationship that you’re trying to have this conversation with.

Just remember that you’re coming with curiosity, with empathy, and wanting to learn more about why they’re doing certain things.

Step one: State Your Intention

Intentions are so incredibly powerful and they hold a lot of value. When coming to a conversation or maybe a difficult conversation with someone is your intention. Your intention is how would you like this conversation to go. When you state your intention, you were really creating a whole new vessel on how you want your conversation with your child to go.

So when you’re stating your intention, your mindset is to clear something up or to gain a better understanding.

“Hey, I’ve noticed that we’ve been playing video games a lot. Sometimes when I asked you to turn them off, you backtalk, you get really angry and you don’t listen.”

That is stating your intention. You want to make it super clear to your child, where you’re coming from and great way to start stating your intention with your child is by saying, “Hey, I’ve noticed…”

“I’ve noticed that you’ve been coming home past curfew a lot lately. My intention for our conversation is to clear up the reason why you’re coming home late and what boundaries we can put in place that we both agree on.”

Step Two: Take Responsibility For Your Part

Taking your responsibility for your part means you apologize by saying “I apologize for not having this conversation sooner. I’ve been dodging the conversation and I’m sorry for not addressing.”. You’re not trying to place blame or force them or anything, but you’re taking responsibility for your own actions for not addressing the conversation.

Step Three: State Your Feelings And Your Needs

If feelings aren’t talked about or dealt with in your home, that’s okay! This may take some practice, but that’s okay because you’re not perfect. Nobody is. This time takes time and it takes to process. It’s not a one and done, okay. It takes some time for you and your child to get used to talking this way to one another and expressing feelings and needs might take you some time to tap into what you’re feeling, same with your child but don’t give up!

This does take some practice. Stating your feelings and needs may sound like this. “I feel really frustrated when I asked you to turn off the video games and you keep ignoring my request, my need for cooperation, really isn’t getting met in those moments. I still really want you to enjoy playing video games and I don’t want to take that away from you. However, when it comes time to turn them off, I want to figure out a way that you and I can both be happy with.”

You want to listen through all these steps to what your child is saying as well, because they may even want to state what their feelings are needs are about the video games or when you ask them to turn it off, what they’re feeling, and what they’re needing during those moments. This is a time for you to both take turns, listening and being empathetic towards one.

Step Four: Offer Empathy For The Other Person’s Feelings.

In step three, you just opened up the doorway for vulnerability. I know that can be uncomfortable to deal with at times, same for your child, but when you’re stating your feelings and needs, it opens up and clears the air. It sets everything on the table so that you guys can come up with a win-win solution.

So in this step, step four, you’re offering empathy towards your child’s feelings.

So you may say something like, “I imagine maybe you feel really frustrated to what I asked you to turn off the video games because you just got into a game or you want to finish it up.” or maybe you say, “I imagine you feel really annoyed when I am constantly reminding you to turn off the video games again.” Listen to what your child is saying.

Step Five: Make A Request

DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! A lot of the time when we have these empowered conversations, we go through the first four steps, but we leave the fifth step. And the fifth step is the most important because you’re asking you’re requesting a change of win-win solution that you and your child can both be satisfied and happy with. When you’re making a request with your child. The one sentence that does super well is asking,

“Would you be willing?”

“Would you be willing to turn off your video games after five o’clock?”

“Would you be willing to come home by 11:30 pm on the weekends?”

“Would you be willing to put away your toys after you’re done playing with them?”

This is laying down the groundwork for clear communication between you and your child, what you guys can gain plan a win-win solution moving forward. What if you ask them, “would you be willing to clean up your toys after you’re done playing with them?” and they say no, that’s okay!

Come up with suggestions and write them down. Maybe it could be, mom helps you clean them up. You could play a game and race to clean them up, whatever it is to come up with a win-win solution. One of the best ways you can do that is to write down suggestions, suggestions that you give, and suggestions that your child gives. Then go through the list together on what you guys can both do on what you guys can both agree on for this win-win solution. Not only is this way of communicating super effective with your children, but also with other relationships and adults in your life.

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Kara is the founder of the Dollar Mommy Club and a full-momma and who loves every minute of it. Ever since she was a little girl (around two years old actually) she has wanted a baby of her own. She even asked her mom for “a crying and pooping baby doll” for Christmas when she was just 6 years old. Certain events took place to where Kara was diagnosed with Endometriosis, and doctors told her that having her own children might be impossible. She spent years trying to figure out her health by trying everything under the sun that you can think of. It wasn’t until a few years after she was married that both she and her husband figured it out, and they were blessed with their first baby girl! When Kara isn’t managing the Dollar Mommy Club and it’s wonderful members and contributors, she enjoys spending time with family, binge-watching The Office on Netflix, and creating art.

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