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Creating a platform for your child to speak

Guidelines for engaging in meaningful conversations with your child

Christine Kritzas, Counselling Psychologist & Education Director at The Light House Arabia

Make a P.A.C.T. with your child today:

In order to engage in meaningful conversations with your children, it is important to be PLAYFUL as adults, make yourselves fully present & AVAILABLE, remain CURIOUS, and set aside quality TIME. 

Playful
  • In order to engage in meaningful playtime with your child, it is important that parents are able to let their own hair down, tap into their inner child and become playful themselves.
  • Allow yourselves to kick off your shoes & physically get down to your child’s level, and you will automatically find yourself tapping into your child’s world with ease.
Available
  • As simple as it may seem, making positive eye contact with a child is what will communicate to them that you are present and available to them.  Research suggests that parents are more likely to make negative eye contact with their child (e.g. When reprimanding a child “look me in the eyes when I’m speaking to you” – as opposed to making positive eye contact with their child. Make a point of looking at your child in their eyes when communicating positive statements & expressing your love & appreciation for them in your life.
  • Using your child’s language will also communicate that they have your undivided attention (e.g. When they say they “feel weird”, don’t ask: “What is making you feel anxious” because they didn’t say that – instead ask: “What is making you feel weird?”. 
  • Research suggests that when we repeat two to three words that someone has just used in a sentence, they feel heard and experience you as actively listening to them.

Curious
  • Stand in a position of curiosity as opposed to standing in a position of judgment & knowing when conversing with your child. If your child says to you that she is feeling worried, don’t assume that you know what they are feeling worried about. Instead validate their feeling by saying: “I can see that you’re feeling worried, what might be making you feel this way?”
  • If your child responds with “I don’t know” – take it a step further by asking: “If you were to take a guess, what do you think would make you feel worried?” Or “If you’re friend Emma were to be feeling worried, what do you think would make her feel this way?”.
Time
  • Love to a child is spelled T-I-M-E.  It’s not necessarily about spending quantity, but rather quality time with your child. Every child has an emotional tank and if it’s not filled with positive attention in a day, they may tend to act out or withdraw. 
  • In order to ensure that your time is of quality, make sure to ditch your phone in those 15minutes and give your child your undivided attention.
  • It is suggested that parents set 15 minutes aside every day, of uninterrupted/one-on-one time with their child. 
  • It is important that parents label this time (e.g. ‘This is mommy & Jake time & we get to spend it playing an activity that you would like to play.’). That way, your child will know that they got their time with you today.

 

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