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How often do you engage, talk to your kids?

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In times past, parents used to think their job involved providing the necessary things of life like food, shelter and clothing. Some of them never attempt to build a relationship with their kids through engagement or interactions, says Parenting enthusiast and Auditor, Uduak Effiong.

The world is changing as well as its practices and parents are beginning to see the need to talk to their kids. Based on recent events, security challenges and peer pressure are significant areas in which parents need to educate their kids

“Teaching them right from wrong, connecting with them to understand their fears, concerns, heartbreaks and opinions is also important. Gone are the days when parents’ wisdom was paramount, these days we find kids smarter than their age, hence, if parents do not connect to their kids early enough there are bound to be communication gaps.”

The mother of one who loves to cook also noted that from her experience, conversations should be streamlined to suit the age and maturity level of each child. “Scenarios and stories can help kids understand better. In the 90s when we watched Tales by Moonlight, each of those stories had an underlying message to be passed to kids ranging from stealing, gossiping, selfishness etc. I believe using this method can go a long way for older kids.

“For younger kids between one to three years, gesticulation can work. For example, when my one- year-old daughter wants to climb a chair, I just say “No” while shaking my head and pointing at her. At that point she knows that mummy does not like what she is doing and stops most of the time.”

On the importance of conversations as it enhances parenting, Effiong cited Tony Gaskin’s theory which says that “communication to a relationship is like oxygen to life and without it, it dies” and this also applies to parenting. Many parents have lost their children because of their inability to communicate with them. It is very important to build parent-child relationship at a very young age so that kids can easily confide in their parents and this can only be achieved through proper communication.

To improve this synergy, Effiong listed the following steps:
. Maintain a friendly atmosphere: Some parents adopt “military” approach to kids. Always dishing orders and expecting compliance without regard for how the child feels. This approach most of the times pushes the child away.
. Create time to talk and listen to each other: Parents can adopt a time of the day when they engage with their kids to talk about their day, their friends, school etc. The most suitable time for this can be during mealtime. Be willing to listen to everything they say.
. Encourage them to express their feelings as much as they can without responding immediately or interrupting them while they talk. In doing this, watch their body language to determine how strongly they feel about what they are saying.
. Collaborate with your kids in solving problems and not just dictating what should be done.
. Stress the need for being truthful and honest during discussions no matter what the child has done. Parents can achieve this by not being always keen to punish a child. Listening and showing empathy can go a long way to strengthen communication.
. Set ground rules for when the child is at fault, so they know. But also let them know that does not change how you feel about them as a parent. Also avoid immediate blame game instead of listening to understand what the child is saying.
. Always reiterate your love and support for them, no matter what. The moment kids know they have the full support and unconditional love of their parents, they can communicate easily.

Effiong added that recently on Twitter, there was a wave of people talking about how they were abused as children/teenagers/adults and most of them could not tell their parents due to the type of communication style adopted when they were younger. “Parents then raised their kids to fear and respect them but not to reach out or communicate.

“The negative effect of this resulted in abuse and depression, because they had no one to talk to. And even if they did, they might be dismissed or given a bad name/label. Parents need to do better to reach out to their kids when they are younger so that they can build friendship and mutual respect,” she advised.


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