Parenting - Rosanne Cubitt, Relationships Scotland

Ever wondered how to talk to your kids, or their other parent,so that they would understand and do what you want? Communicating effectively is a deal breaker in all relationships - whether that's with your partner, your kids, your friends or at work. You need to find a way to get on, get your ideas across and overcome differences of opinion if you are going to succeed. Here are my top 3 suggestions for improving your communication skills (and keep trying them out, it takes practice for them to become a habit). Tip 1 - 'seek first to understand', or in other words, listen openly to what the other person has to say. Arguments often arise due to misunderstandings. We presume we know what the other person means by what they have done or said, but actually we can often be wrong. How often have you thought that someone was meaning one thing and later discovered that they meant something else? Or, we think someone's actions were outrageous only to find out that they had been going through a personal crisis at the time. It's the same with our kids - listen to what they have to say before talking to them about what you think from your perspective. Tip 2 - choose your moment. If you want your communication to be effective pick a time that is good for you and the other person. This will generally NOT be when you or they are tired, stressed, angry or hungry! It pays to put off a difficult conversation to a time when the other person is likely to be receptive. A good idea with your partner is to avoid tricky topics after you have gone to bed. As a parent I often had good conversations with my kids when we were driving somewhere in the car. Think about when might be a good time to talk about things - from their perspective and yours. You might want to make a specific plan to go to a particular place, perhaps for a walk, where the conversation might be less intense and you are doing something together that you both enjoy. Tip 3 - speak respectfully, even if that isn't how you feel. Treat your children, your family and your ex with respect, and you will get a better response from them and be more likely to find a way to move forward. If you are aggressive or attack someone's character, they are likely to respond defensively. Most people find a way to speak and act respectfully at work, use those skills in your personal relationships too. Be specific about what the issue is, tell the other person how you feel and what you need them to do. Respect differences and different perspectives. You might find that you need to agree to disagree! Do this after you have increased your understanding and try to negotiate a plan that meets everyone's needs. Communication is the key to effective relationships, and critical for effective parenting. Most people find it difficult at some time or another - maybe due to other stresses in their lives, illness, different personalities. Work at your techniques and you can improve! Most of the people who come to Relationships Scotland with relationship difficulties are having problems with communicating. They might want to work on their current relationship, future relationships or how to separate in the best way possible. Relationships Scotland have launched a new service for parents who are divorcing, separating or living apart to find out how to communicate more effectively with their child's other parent so that they can put their children's needs at the centre. www.parentingapart.org.uk For general support with relationships www.relationships-scotland.org.uk. Rosanne Cubitt, parent of 2 children in their 20s and Head of Professional Practice - Mediation and Parenting Apart at Relationships Scotland