Dear Parents, Connect With Your Children Before You Correct Them

In his best-selling book, “Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently”, John C. Maxwell explains the great benefits of connecting over-communicating. Audiences respond most to how a communicator makes them feel rather than to what a communicator has to say.

Dear parents, hear this: You don’t have the right to correct a child that you have not connected with! Do you wonder why you correct your children many times without significant results? The missing link is connection! Modern-day parenting has evolved beyond excessive monitoring and control.

Ignacio Estrada once said, “If a child can’t learn the way we teach maybe we should teach the way they learn”. Children learn well when we connect with them than when we correct them. In fact, they take correction more to heart with someone they are more connected to.

Many parents do more of manipulating and controlling their wards instead of connecting with them. If children were actually designed to be manipulated or controlled, they would have come with remote controls! How can you connect with your children?

#1 LISTEN TO THEM: Every child wants to be heard. The best love language that children understand the most is listening to them. Parents must cultivate the habit of listening to their children. Kids have a lot to say only if we listen to them. Many children have become victims of abuse just because they started talking their minds out to the wrong people. Children are mostly abused by the people they often open themselves to. Children will always gravitate towards adults that listen to them. Pedophiles have mastered the art of listening to vulnerable children. Many children have become victims of pedophiles just because their parents were not always available at home to chat with. Abuse thrives in secrecy and that is the more reason you should encourage your children to always tell you anything and everything! Anybody that encourages your child to keep secrets away from you will ultimately end up abusing your ward. Children must be informed on the need to keep open minds with their parents. Be mindful of someone that is always trying to gain your child’s trust and confidence or with whom they keep secrets. Keep an open dialogue with your children and be the kind of parent that a child wants to tell everything.

#2 SPEND ENOUGH TIME WITH YOUR CHILDREN: Most abuses could have been averted if parents spent ample time with their wards. Many children are suffering from Attention Deficiency Syndrome (ADS). I have often observed that sex predators prey on the children of parents who aren’t available. They use this clandestine move to step in as “parents” figure in the life of the child. So, being as involved as possible in your child’s life is the best way to connect with them and guard against child molesters. If you don’t pay attention to your child, someone else will, and that person could as well be detrimental to the growth of your child.

#3 GIVE THEM THE PLATFORMS TO BE THEMSELVES: You connect more with your children when you give them platforms to always be themselves around you. Most children become depressed when we don’t give them platforms to express themselves. Depression happens when expression is hindered! When children can’t be themselves, they begin to pretend or look out for platforms of expression. When we refuse to accept children the way they have been wired, we kill them subtly by trying to turn them to something else. We must help children to find, discover and express themselves, instead of trying to change them. When we tamper with the way children are designed and wired, we ultimately set them on the journey of identity crisis.

#4 DON’T BE JUDGMENTAL: We become judgmental when we are always looking out for faults in our children. Children are always afraid of being judged and we must ensure that we always help them in finding remedies and not faults. When all they receive from their parent is judgment, they tend to withdraw. Make sure your kids know they will not be punished or judged for anything they tell you. We must also make allowance for their mistakes instead of judging them. Parents must see mistakes as an integral part of learning.

#5 TRUST YOUR CHILD: Trust is a risk, but it is a risk worth taking for your children! Children tend to be open most in an atmosphere of trust. Monitoring is good, but excessive monitoring can give a child a wrong signal – mistrust.

#6 LET THEM SEE THAT YOU CARE FOR THEM: There is no better way to connect with children than showing them deep care and love. Theodore Roosevelt once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. Children are less interested in how much you know and more interested in how much you put in to ensure that they have good experience, the rest can come after.

#7 GET INTERESTED IN THEIR FRIENDS: In order to connect deeply with children, we must also connect with their friends. Parent should take ample time to ask their children about their friends. This will not only help in knowing their friends better but also in connecting with the parents of their friends. When parents of children that are friends relate together, it fosters intimacy among those children.

#8 BE VULNERABLE WITH YOUR CHILDREN: Showing vulnerability can help us connect more with our children. Parents must be open enough to admit their mistakes before their wards whenever they are wrong. Admitting our weaknesses or mistakes must never be taken as a sign of weakness but rather as a sign of strength. Parents must learn to say they are ‘sorry’ when needful. Vulnerability builds intimacy by allowing the children to see the real you.

#9 GIVE THEM EXPOSURE IN THEIR AREAS OF ABILITIES: The greatest form of disability is not knowing our abilities. We should discern our children’s areas of strength and their unique abilities and help them build it. We should give them the exposure that is needed in those areas. When we discover a child’s ability early and help them build it, we give them a unique edge in life.

#10 GUIDE THEM TO MAKE DECISIONS FOR THEMSELVES:  Parents who tend to dominate their children’s choices eventually produce obedient, but dependent children. We must encourage decision-making from an early age. We must subtly expose them to the risk of choices and consequences in life. We must raise our children in a way that promotes self-confidence, adaptability, self-respect and optimism. This way, we reduce their risk of making major mistakes later in life.

The greatest gift parents can ever give to their children is to provide them with a platform to be themselves. Parents are meant to nurture the uniqueness in their wards. Allow them to make their own mistakes and learn from them. Be a good and empathic listener to your children. Do not dominate conversations when you are talking with your children. Connecting with your child very early in life will go a long way to set them ahead on the path of self-awareness, self-mastery, and self-worth. Parents should avoid the temptation of forcing their children to fit into their own design, but rather provide them with a platform to stand out with their uniqueness.

“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free”- Thich Nhat Hanh

Originally published on Linkedin

Sign up for our Writing Prompts email to receive writing inspiration in your inbox twice per week.

Photo: Shutterstock