My kids always dreaded it when we said, “We need to have a family meeting ASAP.” To them, it equated to lectures, rules, and reminders of how they’d messed up. It took my husband and I a long time to approach things differently. Once we started communicating with our kids, instead of communicating at them, things began to change for the better.
If you’d like to reduce tension and open up the lines of communication with your children, here are a few ideas to consider:
Ask your children what changes you can make as the parent.
Instead of lecturing your child on how they can improve their behavior, try asking them if there’s anything you can do differently. You might be surprised at their answer! This isn’t a way of diverting the problem, but rather an attempt to show your children that you are willing to make necessary changes as well. For example: Let’s say your child feels frustrated that you’re always on their case about keeping things clean. You can change how you enforce family chores by making a simple chore chart. Then, instead of yelling at them to clean their rooms, you can refer to the chart in a calm, controlled manner. Kids aren’t used to being asked how parents can do things differently, so this idea might be just the thing you need to reduce tension.
Ask them how they handle tension with their friends.
Most kids love to talk about their friends. By asking them how they handle relationship conflict with their buddies, it might give you some insight as to how they might respond to you. For example: If their friend constantly acts loud and annoying, ask them how they plan to handle it. Their answer might provide a creative way of dealing with the tension in your own household—according to their ideas, not yours.
Ask their opinion.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at some of the mature responses I’ve received from my son when I genuinely ask his opinion about something. What surprises me most is that he often answers with insightful opinions that open up the lines of communication between us. If you’re struggling to ease the tension with your children, try asking their opinion about an issue. For example: If there’s a lot of tension regarding church attendance, ask your son or daughter their opinion on the importance of going to church. This might lead to an in-depth discussion and even breakthrough on the subject.
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