You have the best intentions for your kids, but to be a great parent, you need to be able to express those intentions correctly; you need good parenting communication skills.
Here’s a little tip that you can use immediately to begin to improve your parenting communication skills. In fact, this tip isn’t just for parents, it’s for communication across the board, but as you will see, it is particularly applicable to parents.
Here’s the set-up. You’re feeling disappointed and concerned because your teenager daughter didn’t do great in her exam. A lot of parents might express their disappointment by saying
“I’m disappointed in you for not passing your exam.”
On the face of it, this comment isn’t too bad. The intention is good at least. You are at least expressing your feelings to your daughter, and you have good intentions—to motivate her to pass her exams. But there are problems with the way this sentiment is expressed. For starters, your suggesting that your daughter’s actions are entirely to blame for your feeling disappointed (in reality another person is never in control of how we react to their actions; we ourselves are). Secondly, the manner in which you’re motivating your daughter to try harder is through guilt. Your stating :”Don’t do this again, because you make me feel guilty.” Guilt is not a positive motivator. Finally, you haven’t explained why not passing the exams is an issue.
Here is a much better way to deliver the same line.
“I feel disappointed because I wanted you to do well in your exams because they are an important step towards a successful future for you.”
This delivery is far more effective for a number of reasons. 1) You are owning the responsibility of your own feelings (you’re saying, “I caused myself to feel disappointed because I wanted you to do well”). This gets rid of any sense of guilt your daughter may have felt. 2) You explained why the exams are important and gave positive motivation by saying “…towards a successful future…” this is a much healthier form of motivation.
By making this simple change in the way you deliver the same line, you completely change the meaning and the resulting impact on your daughter. You remove the unhealthy guilt and you provide positive motivation for her to try harder.
Remember, delivering the same sentiment in two different ways can create completely different results.
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