“Mom, can I tell you something?” How did the last challenging conversation with your child go? While having difficult conversations with children can be tricky, the first 10 seconds of those conversations can make or break them.
We give our kids a “first impression” every time they come to us with a hard question, problem, or failure. As moms, we have a great chance to show kids patience, love, and understanding when we talk with them. Here are three reasons why the first 10 seconds of every conversation with your kids are the most important.
1. The first 10 seconds communicate whether you are for or against them
Your reaction in the first 10 seconds of a conversation tells your child if you are a safe person to talk to. As moms, we have to realize that it may have taken our kids days or even weeks to work up the courage to talk to us. No matter what your kids say, thank them for trusting you enough to share it. You can even encourage them by saying, “That must have taken a lot of guts to tell me. I am proud of you.”
When our kids hear these things, it builds trust. It’s human nature to not want to disappoint or anger someone. If, on the other hand, our kids see that we are patient and understanding when this happens, we tell them, “You’re not a problem, I want to understand your situation, and I want to help you.”
2. The first 10 seconds can set the conversation up for success
Think about it: Have you ever been scared to talk to someone because you were worried about what he or she would think? Meeting our kids with patience, love, and a desire to understand in those first 10 seconds gives them confidence and lets them speak freely. Often, our kids will “test” us by only telling us what they think we want to hear or what won’t sound too bad. But when we’re patient, we put them at ease and make it easier to talk to them.
When our kids ask to tell us something, our first answer should be, “Always!” Then, when our children start to tell us what’s on their minds, we should say things like, “Tell me more!” or “I’m glad you told me that. Thank you for showing me that.” Give your kids confidence in those first 10 seconds so they can talk to you clearly and openly and you can understand their whole situation.
3. The first 10 seconds determine whether future conversations happen
The vast majority of us want our kids to come to us when they have problems or mess up. We want them to know that we will support and help them in any situation they find themselves in. If in the first 10 seconds they have a bad experience or get the impression that we’re mad at them or don’t have time for them, they might think, “Yeah, Mom’s not for me. I better get help somewhere else.” Or, what’s worse, they’ll think they can’t get help at all.
But when we stay calm and show our love for our kids no matter what they tell us, they learn that we are always there for them and want them to talk to us. We should do everything we can to get our kids to run to us instead of running away when they need help. Some conversations with our kids will be hard, but how we spend the first 10 seconds can build trust and confidence and help us communicate better.
What do you believe helps foster open communication with your kids the most?