There are many ways to communicate with a child when a problem comes up in their life. But they don’t all produce growth in the child even though that is their intent.
Here are some examples listed in pairs – the first in the group shuts a child down and the second promotes growth.
The Sermon on the Couch
Parent’s response – A lecture or some other form of a one sided conversation.
Why it is used – “If I convince them or their errors, they will change.”
Effects on the child – A feeling of “I am not good enough,” or “ I don’t know how to do anything right.” They can feel shame or annoyance and end up with resentment and a desire to avoid you.
The Vision Quest
Parent’s response – A two sided conversation which explores personal values and standards and encourages conscientiousness with others and with choices
Why it is used – “As my child determines what matters and how they want to conduct their lives, they will make good choices.”
Effects on the child – They will increase in maturity and independence while improving their decision making skills and moral development.
The Witch Hunt
Parent’s response – Looking for the cause or fault in external factors. Placing blame and looking for retaliation. Focus on changing circumstances or other people.
Why it is used – “If I get rid of the cause then this won’t happen again.”
Effects on the child – They get the idea that they are a victim and often feel alone, guilty, unsupported, unsure of what to do and embarrassed.
Parent’s response – Take action to promote change beginning with the individual, in the family and beyond.
Why it is used – “focused, wise action can improve people and environments.”
Effects on the child – This helps the child to feel empowered, inspired, and hopeful. It also promotes a sense of belonging and involvement in something bigger.
So when you communicate with your child, be aware that if the way you have selected does not seem to be working, there is always another way you can try.