Research Paper By Lim Siew Siew
(Life Coach, MALAYSIA)
We all wish to raise a healthy, happy and loving children. Often, it could be a challenge to truly accomplish the level of communication we desire with the kids. We must all be aware that raising a healthy, happy and loving children does not simply only involve providing them with food and shelter. Perhaps some of us believe that we know our stuff, and that means you have no issue communicating and relating to your children no matter the situation. Very so often though, I have parents talking to me about how they have trouble communicating and connecting with their children. Now keep in mind that when I mention children, I am referring to any young people between the age of a toddler whom are capable to speak or older to 18 years old.
At this stage of time, parents are often too busy with work and activities that they need to attend to. It is important to know that attending to our children is as severely important as attending to your career or social activities. Now being attentive to your children and being around them all the time does not mean that you are truly connecting to them as much as you think you are. It’s about being able to communicate with a flow, where both parents and children can get along and are able to discuss or talk about any issue that occur in their lives.
It might frighten us to finally realise that we as parents, in many occasion, has become part of our children’s problem. Some parents has become overly emotional with their children’s situation, and in many occasion, make things worse for themselves and for their children. Working parents often encounter problem where they have lack of time to deal with their children and might not be aware of the struggles that their children are dealing with. Therefor, the first important thing to remember is for parents to organise their time productively and spare a fair amount of time to spend with their children.
Coaching play an important role in the process of connecting the parents and the children. As a coach, my job is to be a bridge that connects them both together so they can communicate and connect to each other in a flow. Coaching the parents by support them in order to engage with their children and understanding their children’s emotional needs is very important process. Coaches can bring out tremendous awareness to the parents so that the parents can see how important some simple things may effect their children’s growth.
We must all be aware that we are the role model of our children. Whatever we attempt to do will somehow influence or effect our children and their growth. Think about a time when you tell your children that attempting to something is bad, but somehow you display that action right in front of them. For example, you tell your children that smoking is bad, but you attempt to smoke right in front of their eyes. When question, you might argue that you have a reason to attempt to that habit, perhaps due to stress, but do you think that is a very convincing reason to use in front of your children? Our children will observe and learn from most of the things that we do. Study has it that children who are raise in a family who often fights are highly possible to attempt to that themselves in their group of society. Willingness to sacrifice for our children is one of the core element we need to have if we want the best for them. That means to do the right thing and not do what is convenient just because we think it is okay to do so. Be the person you want your children to be.
One of the big challenges for the current parents are the generation and age gap with their children. Are you the type of parents who often tell your children such statement similar to ‘back in my days ….’ to show comparison? How did your children respond? Being able to adapt to your children’s generation is important in order to connect with them. Imagine if you are not familiar with computer. Would you be aware of what your children is learning and seeing or doing if you have no clue of how it works? I often emphasis the important of learning as a parent. We are never too old to learn. In fact, it can always be fun to learn new things! One of my client once told me she was worried about teaching her 2 years old daughter simple english because english is not her mother tongue. I ask her if she is willing to learn alongside her daughter, and have fun together. She said she would, and after a period of time of attempting on learning while teaching her daughter, she has improved her english skills. With all the story books reading and words she has learned through out the fun practises, she is excited to continue learning for her daughter’s sake. How delightful! There is no need for the belief of a difficulty of communication with our children just because of the age or generation gap. We can stay as close as their friends but at the same time give them the awareness of respect they need to show us as their parents.
Have you ever commit this crime, where you always think that you are right, because you are the parent? In many cases, you might be right, but is being right more important then being able to communicate in a way where our children can appreciate and understand our values and for us to understand how our children truly thinks and feels? To be able to truly understand and know what our children thinks and feel, we need to put “what we know best” aside and listen to them. Ask them question and be curious in their agenda. I talked to a lot of kids in my work and there was this one time when I asked them how do they feel when their thoughts are being rejected. They told me that they know that adults are often right, but they also have their thoughts and ideas in many things and wish that their parents would show interest in what they have to share too. Children loves to be heard, for their parents to show interest in what they do or think. When you show interest in your children, no matter the issue, they will be more open to share their feelings and even their secrets with you. When you know what they truly think and feel, wouldn’t it be easier for you to supervise them to make sure that they are safe and healthy? When your children feel connected to you, they are more willing to consider your adult perspective, more able to accept your restrains and more likely to be protected by your values.
Many of the current generation parents can relate to this. I often see parents taking their children to dinner, where they supply an iPad or any similar devices for the kids while waiting for the meal or even while eating the meal. One of the parent I talked to actually told me, “it is easier that way, he can play with his iPad and I can browse my Facebook while we wait, and I can feed him when the food is here so he wouldn’t make a mess’. Is checking on Facebook more important then taking the time to communicate with your child? Are your child not allow to make a mess but learn how to eat better the next time? Often time, the children will lost their awareness in what is happening around them due to the focus they put in on the game or application they are playing. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a good conversation with your children while waiting for the food to arrive? Ask them stuff such as, if there is anything exciting happening in school or what are their current favourite cartoon? Doing activities with your children can improve the relationship between you and your children. Take them out to explore new things, to check out the museum, to the park, to the orphanage, to the old folks home, to the park, any places that create curiosity in them. Ask them question, and discover new things with them. It will broaden their horizon and give them the opportunity to experience and learn from the activities. If you put in the interest in experiencing different activities with them, you will learn so much more about your children, and they can definitely learn more about you too. Now there is no problem for your children to be playing with an iPad. What I am trying to emphasise here is the importance of communicating and connecting with your children in varies ways, and how that can improve the relationship and trust between parents and their children.
It is extremely important for parents to be aware of the importance of responsibilities. By responsibility I am not referring merely only on parent’s responsibility on raising their children. Teaching and encouraging responsibilities on your children plays a massive important part in their development. One of the often statement that I hear from parents is that their children are still young and responsibilities can wait. Responsibility can start in a young age. I know a 4 year old girl in Cambodia who wake up at 4am every morning to clean the house for her parents. When I asked her why she decided to do that, she explains that she has to help her parents because she knows that her parents has to work hard to raise her. Therefor she in return feels the responsibility she has on keeping the house clean so that when her parents comes home, they can rest after a hard day at work. Such heart warming thought came from a 4 year old, and yet we all often experience children living in the city with fancy gadgets whom take little things for granted. Of course, we all want our children to live in a comfortable environment and supply them with the best thing that we can effort. But knowing how to put responsibility in our children can lead to a healthy and strong growth for them. Giving them responsibilities can start from making them clean up on themselves, tidying up their own room, help out with chores at home, run some simple errands, feed the pet and so much more. Giving our children responsibility is like holding them accountable and giving them an opportunity to prove themselves as a reliable and capable person. Study has it that children who are given responsibility at a young age often grow up as a stronger person in handling themselves. Where else children who are overly protected and pampered often have a hard time dealing with obstacle when they reach adulthood. I have 2 friends who both sons are 6 years old. When their son was 2 years old, during meal time the first friend would feed his son all the time while he is enjoying the video game or cartoons on his iPad since he wouldn’t need to feed himself. The 2nd friend would make his son eat his own meal even though she knows he would make a mess. When they both grow up to age 6, the first friend’s child is still lack of responsibility to eat by himself, and often time still rely on his mother to feed him while he does the same thing during meal time. The 2nd child however, are able to eat by himself with any equipment given to him, and even are able to feed his younger baby brother during meal time. This might sound like a simple example, but it display a demonstration of putting responsibility on your children. In many cases we as parents are way too busy to bother minor issues that might be less important if it is seen in the surface alone. However, these things will contribute in turning your children into the kind of person that they will be growing up to be. To be a responsible parents, we have to be responsible in giving responsibility to our children, so that they can grow to be a strong and healthy adult.
What do you think about shifting your perspective in situations where you have to put aside your values and beliefs? There are times when your children will, no matter how you try to explain to them or tell them to decide on something, end up doing things their own way. We all want the best for our children, therefor we try to provide them with our wisdom and knowledge, because ‘we’ know better. But you will be surprise that most times when our children is determine to use their own way, they often succeed in achieving something. Perhaps not always the result that you or they were expecting, but they often learn something from the experience. If we can shift our thinking from ‘how do I fix things for them’ to ‘how do I enable my children to fix things for themselves’ we will see things in another level. We in return, can have the opportunity to witness how our children deal with their own agenda, and with that will gain faith that our children are capable in handling things by their own in many occasions.
How coaching improve communication between parents and children.
Coaching play a huge role in creating awareness to both parents and their children in maintaining a decent communication flow between them. The coach play the role as the bridge in connecting parents and the children in obtaining a better understanding in their communication on each other’s feelings and needs.
A set up of 12 session of group coaching will be held. A group coaching of 8 session will be held with a group of parents and the coach. Another group coaching of 2 session will be held with a group of the parent’s children and the coach. A final 2 session will be held with all the parents and their children together with the coach.
The progress of the first 8 sessions will consist of the coach communicating with the parents to get a better understanding on their issues on communicating with their children. The coach will question when, how, where and why they believe the communication conflict occur. The coach will present a lot of different questions to trigger the parent’s awareness in realising that one of the most crucial thing they have to acknowledge is that ‘they’ have to bear the responsibility for the communication conflict that occur with their children. By acknowledging that they are responsible give them the ability to look at each of their issues in a different perspective. To understand that ‘they’ are the ones who are responsible give them the power to change what they are not currently satisfy with in their communication with their children, that strongly effects the relationship between them.
The coach will work with the parents to come out with some insight on how it can benefits the parents when things went wrong or out of order. Some of them include, sitting down and figuring out how they can solve the issue and problem together with their children. Time is needed to resolve any issues, and if their children really mean a lot to them, they will, no matter how tough, get some time to straighten things up for their children. They can also listen to what their children have to say, acknowledge their children’s feeling before expressing their own feeling. Listing down all sort of possibilities to solve problems with their children will be an effective way of communication, even if the possibilities that the children mention might sound silly, as with the parents guidance and the coach support, they can always work out the best solution together. Working out what is best for both the parents and the children will build a trusting communication and improve the relationship between them. By working on these thoughts together, the parents will gain awareness on how they can use different approach for a better communication with their children.
The 2 session with the group of children will enable the coach to understand the children’s perspective in their agenda. The coach will then again question the children on when, how, where and why they believe the communication conflict occur between them and their parents. The coach will then again question the children in triggering their awareness on the importance of acknowledging that ‘they’ are responsible for the issue. The coach will then explain how acknowledging that they are responsible gives them the power to resolve the problem and will help them in any situation that will occur in their life in the long run. The coach will also work with them in coming out with insight on different ways of approaching their parents to get a better communication, and in return give them a peace of mind as they can avoid many unnecessary conflict in the future. Explaining to the children how they can be in control and avoid conflict by taking responsibility in everything they do or decide to do will enable the children to think before they act or making a decision. Providing the children with some simple mindfulness practise and understanding can also help the children to understand that every little thing they act on requires awareness, focus and attention. By that understanding, they will be more aware of their little actions and hence minimises the amount of conflict they might have with their parents or anyone that come along their lives. It can also enhance their ability to achieve what they aim to achieve as they will learn to be mindful and attentive in anything they pursue. They will be more aware of their thoughts and speech before saying something, and with that, they can improve their communication with their parents tremendously.
The final 2 session with both the parents and their children will give them the opportunity to sit together in front of the coach to acknowledge each other’s responsibilities on all of their issues together. They will also identify their realisation on how the issues between them occur. They will have a decent conversation with each other in front of the coach, and work out their differences and how they can both learn from each other in the future. They will have then realise that it isn’t what happen between them that troubled their communication, it is the fact that both parties are unwilling to step out to acknowledge the problem and taking the responsibilities together. The coach will then question both the parents and children on “if in the near future something occur between you, what will you choose to do?”. And finally the coach will acknowledge both the parents and children in their willingness to work together with the coach in improving their communication and relationship.
Finally, the coach will share that each day offers new opportunity for them to understand each other in many different ways. Each day gives them a chance to demonstrate the attitude and language that can serve them both in the present moment and in all the years ahead. What children experience at home today will empower them to bring to the world in the future.