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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Magic of the Notebook

Communicating with your child is one of the most important tasks a parent has. It isn't always an easy thing to do, though. Some children simply shut down when you try to talk to them. Some topics are just too difficult to address face to face. There are, however, a few things you can do to make communicating with your child easier for both of you.

First, when your child is old enough to read and write well, you should initiate a notebook program. Start by writing a letter to your child on the first page of a composition or wire notebook. Explain to your child that the notebook is for the purpose of talking about those issues that the child may want to discuss but feels uncomfortable talking about face to face. Be sure to tell your child that she can ask you anything (in the notebook or not) and that you will always answer honestly and without repercussions. Choose a location for your child to leave the notebook when she is ready for you to read it, and a location for you to return the notebook to her after you have had a chance to respond. Perhaps your bed and her bed would be ideal locations. Also, be sure that your child knows that the content of the notebook will be private - between both parents and the child. She'll feel more comfortable opening up if she knows that you will not be sharing this with siblings and grandparents.

Expect that the early communications will be little more than notes of love or silly questions. Be sure to respond appropriately, regardless of what your child has to say. Eventually, though, the hard topics will begin to surface. When they do, you will already have an avenue open to address those difficult issues.

Another way to effectively communicate with your child is to talk while you are driving. It is often easier to discuss things when you don't have to look into your child's face. Topics such as sex, masturbation, and other personal issues can be very embarrassing for you and your child. Trust me when I say that it is far easier to talk about these things when you are looking at the road and your child is looking at the window pretending that they wish you would shut up already even though they were the ones that broached the topic.

Email can be a useful tool, also. Most kids these days have their own email at some point. What a wonderful way for you to remind your child that you think of her daily - just send a short note to her email. She may not respond, but she will read your note.

Soap crayons and your child's bathroom mirror can become an impromptu message center for you to leave messages of affection or even dreaded chore reminders. Be sure to mix it up a bit, though, if you use this method as a task center. Adding a touch of affection and surprise makes everything easier for everybody.

The real key to successful communication is keeping the lines open and working hard to control your emotions before you respond to any question. This is one area that I feel honesty is always best, no matter how difficult you may find it to provide straight forward and honest information to your child. It isn't always easy to talk about the issues that children face these days, but it is so very important. Just remember that if you do not tell your child about sex, drugs, and other issues - somebody will. Do you really want the kid down the street to be the one explaining these things to your precious child? Yeah - think about THAT for a day or two and you will quickly realize that talking about these things is far easier than you thought.

1 comments:

Liss said...

Another great idea. I hope one day I can do this with my son. We had some test today that deemed him to have a moderate intellectual disability.