Kids need to know there are right and wrong ways of expressing themselves. Parents need to be alert and comfortable with knowing what is right and wrong as well.
When I was in elementary school I remember how in 7th grade a girl talked to me in a way that was… well, a little too forward. She gave me a hug one day in the cafeteria and put her hand on my thigh. WhenI pulled away, she looked at me kind of shocked and sarcastically said “I thought you liked it when I touched your thigh.” I looked at her, smiled, and then walked away.
I remember like it was yesterday because I felt so awkward. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to feel bad for pulling away. In retrospect, I think she was trying to be flirtatious and tease me. Now, I’m sure it came off poorly due to her age and inexperience. For some reason, I just felt uncomfortable with her and shedogged me down. It was horrible.
I don’t think this iswhat she intended to do. She just tried to talk to me and show me she was interested. She just wasn’t mature enough to know how or was just trying to impress me with her understanding of how people act. Either way, it nearly sent me over the edge.
A few months later, in 8th grade, I was talking with the same girl about something totally unrelated to her behavior. She suddenly started calling me “weird.” Shewouldn’t tell me what I did that was weird, just that I was weird.
Now, this wasn’t the first time I had ever heard this phrase, but for some reason, this time it pissed me off. I shook it off, and walked away. Thinking back to these memories, I think of myself as a pretty strong guy. But, I still get bullied at school, snap at my family, and can’t figure out how to talk to girls. I wonder why that is. I think it is becauseI never learned the best way to communicate or express myself properly.
Clearly, I learned from my past and I know how to communicate more effectively now. This isn’t always the case, and not all kids do. I imagine that some people’s childhood experiences were worse than mine. Kids can be awful to each other, and even worse to theirparents.
- **Bullying, name calling, fighting.** We’ve all seen the videos online and heard the stories in the news. This is a real problem with a lot of kids today. It is tough out there.
- **Self harm, suicidal thoughts.** This is another terrible part of life and something no parent should ever have to deal with. This could easily lead to suicide.
Communicating with Your Kids
You have to be on the lookout for signs of loneliness, depression, and sadness. You need tofigure out the best way for your kid to communicate effectively with you, even if they don’t feel comfortable talking.
Today, I want to talk to you about a technique that has been very effective with my two year old daughter. Her name is Olivia, but I also call her Livie for short. (Notice how I shortened it to “L” instead of “Liv”? That’s because she tends to shorten words to about one word.) We have a strongconnection and it is evident by looking at her.
Praise the Behavior
- I always tell Livie she is a good girl. She loves to hear this and has a ton of vocabulary for “good” or “nice.” Eventhough she is only two, she may say “no” to something and try to defy me. I will then tell her “No, not nice.” She understands this immediately and acts appropriately.
- You can do the same with any child. When they are doing something right, praise them.
Using Praising and Punishing to Convey Messages
Kids need guidance in learning how to behave. Theylearn this by copying their parents. So, if you give a hug to your mom, she will offer you one. If you laugh loudly at your dad’s joke, he will do it again. (If this hasn’t happened to you yet, you will very soon.)
Some Examples forPraising and Punishing Behaviors
- **Give hug** – If you are proud of your child, tell them. They will take this as encouraging and treat you accordingly.
- **Touching boob!** – Ok, don’t do this. But, this is a marker you can use when your child does something that is not appropriate.
- **Laughing loudly** – This is best case scenario. Your kid looks at you and laughs because something you did was funny.
Punishing Inappropriate Behavior and Encouraging Appropriate Ones
This is probably the most important point. If you have personal conversations with your kids, they will know that you care about them. If you constantly ignore their feelings, they will assume you don’t like them. Not only that, but they will wonder why they feel this way. Then they will start to think that there is something wrong with them and start to judge themselves based on this belief. Unfortunately, this is how a lot of people feel throughout their lives, and it leads to things like cutting and suicide.
Be Present and Listen
If you can’t be there physically, use your voice and video chat. Be present. Be there. Listen to what they have to say. Ask them questions. Share anecdotes fromyour own life and talk to them as if they were your best friend. Take everything in stride. If you have a bad day, let them know. If you are angry, let them hear your voice and learn to deal with your emotions. \u003c\/p\u003e
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