“If we want our children to open up to us, and listen to us willingly, then we must first build rapport with them. When they feel that they can trust us and that we truly understand them, we can influence them to do anything!”
Have you ever wondered why some parents are able to get their children to listen and cooperate with them while others can’t? While there can be a thousand and one reasons to why the later is happening to some parents, the usual root cause tend to be the same – the lack of rapport between the parent and the child. Your child will be more willing to listen and cooperate when they trust you and feel that you understand them.
It is very common for the kids (especially teenagers) that attend our school holiday programmes to share that they do not feel that their parents understand them, nor do they feel that their parents understand the problems that they are going through. At the same time, they do not have the confidence that they can share their innermost thoughts and feelings with their parents without being criticized, judged or reprimanded. This is why troubled teens tend to clam up and give ‘one-word’ responds when their parents ask them questions. They may become indifferent to advice and suggestions, or worse, some teens end up being openly defiant and challenge their parent’s opinions and values.
Let’s take a minute here to pause and recognize the danger here. When a troubled teen find it hard to communicate with their parents at home, and they have to let it out somehow, where can they turn to? Outside. This is why teens easily fall prey to the negative influence of ‘bad’ company and would rather listen to their ‘friends’ than their parents.
First… Respecting their Model of the World
The secret to building rapport and trust with our kids lies in respecting their model of the world. If we want our children to open up to us, and listen to us willingly, then we must first build rapport with them. When they feel that they can trust us and that we truly understand them, we can influence them to do anything. But first, we have to start by understanding and acknowledging their views and feelings.
If a child were to come up to you and shouts “Studying is a waste of time!”. How would you respond?
Some typical answers from parents will include “how could you say that?”, “studying is not a waste of time!” and “don’t be stupid, you have to study for your future”. Are these parents wrong to say that? There are most definitely not, yet, how would the child will feel after such a response? Rapport is broken and trust between parent and child is challenged. We can all agree that this response, was not useful.
Respecting their Model of the World… then CHANGE IT
Before we can successfully influence a person to change their views and accept new suggestions, we must first respect and match their model of the world. And the key here lies on our kids feel that they are respected.
Here are some suggestions; start your sentences with:
- I agree that…
- I understand that…
- I appreciate that…
By agreeing, understanding and appreciating, you are telling your child that you are listening and do respect their model of the world. Here’s an amazing response from a parent: “Yes, I agree that studying may seem like a waste of time if you don’t know what you are studying for. If you don’t mind being a bum in life and have possible everyone around you look down upon you, then there is really no point in studying. At the same time, if you want to lead a rich and successful life in the future, then studying for good grades will open doors for you”.
Notice the bold words in the response above. This is the art of changing a person’s attitudes and perceptions (without forcing it on them), the technique is called REFRAMING. While this is an entirely new topic altogether, anyone can pick this useful basic technique – recognize the issue by using the suggestions above before future-pace your child by providing them with a negative then a clearly more ideal, positive outcome. You will be surprised by how mature and sensible your child actually is.