Sunday | December 8, 2019

Talking To Your Teen About Important Topics

The time comes in every parent’s life when they need to talk to their teens about important topics such as drugs, alcohol and sex. But how do you know if your child is ready for the talk, and more importantly, perhaps, how do you know what to say? What if they don’t want to listen?

Learning to communicate with your teenager will help you get your message across in an effective way. Here are some suggestions from leading experts about how to open the lines of communication:

Start early. Experts recommend developing a rapport with your child beginning at an early age. It makes it easier to have a relationship with your child when they are older and naturally want more space and privacy. This is the time to set expectations for behaviour and to talk about issues in an age-appropriate way.

Find common interests. Do you both like sports, camping or trying new foods? It’s easier to begin a dialogue when you have something in common. It opens the door to better communication and this common ground can help when it’s time to discuss something important.

Be available. Even if you don’t have much in common, make the effort to spend extra time with your teen anyway. Set a date every week, have family dinners, or drive them to school when possible rather than having them take the bus. Research shows that teens say they don’t have enough time with their parents. A perceived lack of time may cause teens to feel their parents aren’t available to talk when they want to.

Don’t judge. If you end up being forced to discuss the topic because your child is already curious about sex or drugs, be open to listening to your teen. You might be surprised by some of what they have to say, and you might not agree, but try not to be judgemental. Let your kids know they can feel comfortable talking to you about anything. It will serve you well in the long run.

Resist lecturing. Conversations are a dialogue between two people. A lecture is when one person does all the talking. It’s also important not to attack. You don’t want to risk putting your teen on the defensive. Try to listen to one another. And keep it short. Once your teen understands what you’re trying to say, end the conversation before it becomes a lecture.

Be persistent. If your teen doesn’t want to talk to you at first, keep trying. Eventually they will come around. Your teen might even surprise you: sometimes the best conversations happen spontaneously. If you are open and available, you will be able to handle any important conversation well beyond the teen years.

November 29th, 2016

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Do I Communicate with My Child

When was the last time you heard a child mimic the dialogue from their favorite TV show? Sounding like a Disney starlet *might* be cute to a seven year old, but it can be a challenge to communicate with a little one looking for ways to incorporate lines that merit a laugh track. Or you may be dealing with a teenager’s histrionics or their shutting you out.

Pop culture aside, it’s difficult for parents to feel confident in how they communicate with their children. Whether your child is school aged or a teenager, here are a few tips to ensure that you are communicating effectively as a family.

The first step in effective communication is to be the adult in the relationship rather than acting like a peer.

Each family should determine their own standards to guide how children speak to each other and to the adults around them. Adopt Stephen Covey’s second habit, “Begin With the End in Mind” by teaching your values to young children; with teenagers, hold a family meeting to help them put into words what is acceptable to your family. It is easier to communicate with your child when they are respectful to you.
Consider how your children speak (or text) with their friends: they often express themselves rather than communicate. Simply stated , expressing oneself is to set forth an opinion or feeling, while communicating is about being joined or connected.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”[/pullquote]

We connect with our children when we remember Eleanor Roosevelt’s words, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Engage in meaningful discussions with your children from the time that they almost seem too little to have an actual discussion. If you do this, they will be more likely to have a discussion with you when they are teenagers. Being the parent in the relationship means that we actively listen and model appropriate conversation.

Dealing with an emotional child feels a lot like riding a roller coaster. In order to help them resolve their issue, it is important to distill the greater meaning of their concerns from the emotions they are expressing.

Active listening is the second step in effective communication.
Our children need more than body language or neutral expressions of understanding. First, we need to listen to them as if they are an adult we respect. We need to put down what we are doing, look them in the eye, and listen. It can be difficult to pay attention to an emotional tirade about the unfairness of (insert your personal experience here). However, if our children get the sense that we aren’t listening to the small details in their lives, they won’t share what’s important.

In order to help a child focus, ask them to tell you the beginning, middle, and end of their story. Help them name the emotion they are feeling. You might ask, “When _____ happened, how did you feel?” Before moving on, validate that emotion by saying, “That’s tough. I can see that you feel _________.”

Get to the root of the problem by asking open-ended questions beginning with “how” or “why.” Be sure to listen for what is being left out and look for patterns. When we actively listen to our children by validating their emotions and asking questions, we are connecting with them.

Parents are the first and best teachers for their children; we are their social model for communication among other things.
● If we would raise a generation that abhors hate speech, we should not speak it. We should elevate our own thoughts and conversation first.
● If our children use their devices rather than socializing, we need to be the first ones to put our devices down.
● If we want our children to develop healthy relationships in real life rather than via a device, then we need to engage them in actual meaningful conversations.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“ People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”[/pullquote]

When a child shuts down your attempts at conversation, try connecting with them in other ways. Give them your time first, and the conversations will follow. In these instances, Zig Ziglar reminds us that “ People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Expressing ourselves is only saying what we think; communicating builds relationships.

November 25th, 2016

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Should children read e-books or traditional books? The pros and cons of each.

Should children read e-books or traditional books? The prons and cons of each.

Children are growing up in a new era, and when it comes to reading, parents are faced with two choices: e-books and traditional books.

While a paper book has been the norm for centuries, e-books for children can now be read on a computer or tablet. An e-book can have exciting features including narration, animated pictures, music, sound effects, and links that connect to games or elaborate on the story.

Parents often find themselves caught between two worlds. Should they be concerned about how much screen time they allow their children? Can children learn as much from e-books as they can from traditional books? Several studies have been conducted over the past decade and provide some insight into the advantages and disadvantages to e-books.

E-books have several advantages:

Studies have shown that children can learn early reading skills from e-books that offer certain helpful features, including a dictionary, words that become highlighted when the narrator reads them, and games and pictures that explain the story. Since e-books can be exciting, children also tend to spend more time reading e-books with their parents compared to traditional books. One study even found that children with developmental delays improved their vocabulary and language development after sharing an e-book. These books are also convenient for on-the-go reading and can be read independently.

E-books also have some disadvantages compared to paper books:

Studies show that parents don’t talk as much about the story when using an e-book, but end up discussing the buttons and games instead. How do you counteract that? The best advice from experts is to read an e-book together so children can benefit from having an adult explain the story and link it to personal experiences, similar to how they would when reading a paper book. Interestingly, one study showed that children who read paper books better understood the details of the story. Perhaps this is because the extra buttons and features can distract children from the story.

If you want to read an e-book with your child, look for ones that have features shown to help children learn. For instance, e-books with pictures and interactive features can help children understand the story. Interactive features, however, can be a distraction if you can access them before the narrator finishes reading the page. Have your child listen to the story in “read-only” mode to help them better understand the story before they play. A highlighter is also a useful tool that can showcase words as the narrator reads them. Having a dictionary mode that helps explain difficult words can also be helpful. Forward and backward buttons, as well as repeated reading options, allow children to repeat pages, sentences or words to help build their understanding. Again, any book format will be improved if you read together, discuss what you’re reading, explain challenging words and connect the story to your child’s experiences.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]e-books should not replace paper books.[/pullquote]

In short, researchers agree that e-books should not replace paper books. Rather, good quality e-books should be used in addition to traditional paper books. No matter what type of book your child reads, the most important thing is to read it together. This will promote your child’s language and literacy skills and help develop a lifelong love of reading.

November 18th, 2016

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Helping your Child learn English as a second Language

If you’re worried about how you can help your child learn English as a second language, the process might be easier than you think. Research shows that the types of parent-child interactions that help children learn their first language also help them acquire a second language. Here are five tips culled from speech language pathologist Lauren Lowry to help your child learn a second language.

Be responsive: “Children learn language as they interact and play with the important people in their lives on a daily basis,” says Lowry. “When caregivers are responsive during these interactions, children feel connected to them and are motivated to keep interacting.” Let your child lead the conversation and respond with interest and enthusiasm. Talk about what he or she is interested in discussing. In doing so, your child will pay close attention to what you are saying and is more likely to acquire new words.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“In order to learn language, children need to hear a lot of language”[/pullquote]

Talk often: “In order to learn language, children need to hear a lot of language,” says Lowry. “And for children learning more than one language, this means that they need a lot of exposure to both of their languages.” Experts recommend talking through everyday activities to increase the amount of English your child hears. Every activity is a learning opportunity. Talk about what you’re putting into your cart at the grocery store and what you’re going to cook. Read books together and point out what you’re seeing in the pictures. When you go to the doctor’s office, point out what the various instruments are called. Remember to follow your child’s lead so that he or she continues to be engaged in the conversation.

Use difficult words: When it comes to learning a new language, use common words as well as words your child might not hear every day. “When parents use a wide variety of words, their children tend to develop better communication skills later on,” says Lowry. Use the same word in different sentences to help your child start to understand its meaning. For instance, when dressing for the day, talk about the temperature outside. When cooking, talk about the temperature of the oven. Use new words in new situations to broaden opportunities to hear words they might not otherwise hear. Before you know it, their vocabulary will expand.

Use proper grammar: Don’t try to oversimplify your sentences or words or speak incorrectly; instead, use proper grammar and speak how you usually would to help your child understand. For instance, say “Daddy is making dinner” rather than “Daddy make dinner.” It’s also important to use new words as part of a sentence instead of on their own, as the sentence will help your child figure out the meaning. “For example, if the child just hears ‘freezer’ while you point to the freezer, the child doesn’t know if the word refers to the door of the freezer, the freezer itself or the food inside,” says Lowry. “But if he hears: ‘Let’s put the meat in the freezer. This will make the meat really cold so it will stay fresh. Then we can eat it next week when we want hamburgers again,’ this tells him that ‘freezer’ is the part of the refrigerator that is really cold. It also tells him that ‘freezer’ is a noun (the name of a thing) because there is already a verb in the sentence.”

Use your native language at home: When a child begins school or daycare, parents often ask whether they should start speaking English at home. The answer is no. “Parents should speak to their child in a language they are 100 percent comfortable with,” says Lowry. If parents aren’t fully fluent, they might not speak English well enough to teach their child. Also, communication with their child may suffer. Moreover, research suggests children risk losing their home language unless they hear it spoken often. “Learning a second language doesn’t mean abandoning the first language,” says Lowry. “It means providing enough exposure to both languages.”

November 11th, 2016

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