Good Parenting: How To Understand What Your Kids Are Telling You


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in Parenting Kids, Parenting Teens

Communication with kids is complicated. I am sure most parents will agree. It is not so easy to always understand what kids are telling us.

That is because they are just learning how to use language to express themselves. They often don’t have the emotional intelligence to understand their emotions, why they feel the way they do. They also do not have the vocabulary to express themselves and their feelings. Even the most expressive children sometimes have trouble letting their parents know how they feel in a way that parents can understand.

This is the main reason why kids tantrum, cry and whine.

I remember when I had my fourth child, my three other children were already talking and were able to convey to me their basic needs. I found it so frustrating that my newborn could not just tell me what was wrong. When she would cry I would think, I wish she had been born knowing how to speak. We would both be so much happier. It would be so much easier.

Imagine if newborns could say:

“My diaper is wet and I am starving.”

But really, even kids who can talk have trouble letting us know what they need.

It would be so much better if instead of kids having a tantrum they could use language:

“Mommy, I am so upset about not getting what I want. I wanted that ice cream so badly. Life is so hard sometimes. I feel overwhelmed, scared and angry. I don’t know what to do with all those emotions roaming around inside my brain.”

It would be so much better if instead of whining our kids would say:

“I am so tired and I need help. I don’t think I can even eat dinner or get into pajamas myself.”

As they get older our kid’s messages can get even more cryptic. They might have language but they still don’t know how to use it in the most effective ways. They may speak in code and we are the ones who need to decipher it.

They may ask:

“Why don’t we get to do anything fun?”

When they really mean:

“I am bored and I am not sure what should do.”

They may complain:

“My coat is so stupid!”

When they really mean:

“The tag is bothering me and the wool of the coat itches. I feel uncomfortable.”

They may accuse:

“You never buy any good snacks.”

When they really mean:

“Sara brought chocolate chip cookies today and everyone wanted to play and trade snacks with her. All I brought to the table was a lousy apple. It was demoralizing.”

It can be real tricky to understand what our kids tell us if they are always talking in code. It is important to know that kids rarely mean exactly what they say. Let us keep that in mind the next time our child says something that we might not like to hear. If we do it can be the best way to connect and nurture our children.

Adina Soclof, MS. CCC-SLP

Adina Soclof works as a Parent Educator for Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau facilitating “How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk” workshops as well as workshops based on “Siblings Without Rivalry.” Adina also runs ParentingSimply.com. Check out her online classes and visit her website at www.parentingsimply.com

This post was written by , who has contributed 4 posts on Surf Net Parents.

Adina Soclof works as a Parent Educator for Bellefaire Jewish Children's Bureau, facilitating "How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk" workshops as well as workshops based on “Siblings Without Rivalry.” Adina also runs ParentingSimply.com and is available for speaking engagements.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lynne June 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I really agree on everything you said. But it is so amazing that all mothers have special talent to understand what our children wants even they were not able to communicate well.
Lynne recently posted..Is Your Goal Motivational Coaching Certification?My Profile

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