What is your body saying?
As parents it is very important that your posture, facial expression, and eye contact send a message of giving full attention, non-judgmental interest and understanding when communicating with your children. The following six suggestions will give you a great check list for continuing to improve the positive messages you are sending with your body language.
- Square up with your child. Face them directly when you are speaking with and listening to them. This says to the child, “I am giving you my full attention; you and what you have to say is very important to me.”
- Concentrate on your child when they are speaking. Don’t interrupt or do anything distracting (i.e. fiddling with a pencil, looking elsewhere). Often, in this fast paced world we live in, we carry on conversations while doing a whole bunch of other things. Multi-tasking has its place, but not necessarily when you are talking with your child. Give them the attention they deserve, invest in the relationship.
- Open Posture. Avoid communicating ‘uptightness’ with crossed arms, legs, clenched fists, etc. This is especially helpful when you are confronting their behavior. When you display anger the message gets muddled. Stay calm, confront the behavior and separate the problem from the person.
- Lean slightly toward your child while not crowding their space. Each of us has a safety bubble that defines the distance we keep between us and others. Recognize your child’s bubble and respect its boundaries.
- Eye contact is extremely important. Be sensitive to not communicate a challenge or disrespect. Offer eye contact but do not demand it during intense discussion or during conflict resolution.
- Relax. Yes, that is the best way to put your child at ease and to open up the flow of communications.
We are the model for our children and they are watching everything we do. By demonstrating open, positive body language we are providing our kids with the foundation they need to be great communicators. Active listeners practice these techniques and people feel at ease with them. Helping others to feel comfortable increasing the intensity of any relationship and it is a great precursor to building friendships and business relationships. Parents, by adding this to your ‘parent tool kit’ you are teaching your children daily great open communication skills that will serve them well throughout their lives.