David Chiem, founder and CEO of MindChamps, shares from his book on the finer points of communicating with one’s child. Chiem’s revolutionary techniques have made MindChamps a learning experience that enriches not just a child’s intellectual development, but builds strong communication and bonding between parent and child.
Chiem and Brian Caswell, the bestselling authors of Deeper than the Ocean, hailed as ‘the parenting bible of the 21st century’, have written its highly anticipated follow-up The Art of Communicating with Your Child. This book builds on the key concepts introduced in its predecessor; it is a guide to developing the practical skills and techniques for ensuring optimal communication with young people. Key areas examined in the book include:
* Developing Self-Concept and Self-Respect
* Moral and Ethical Maturity
* The ‘Champion Mindset’.
According to educational experts Chiem and Caswell, superior communication between parent and child is one of the key factors for developing a successful citizen of the future — a future-focused individual with the mindset of a champion.
Here is an extract from the book reproduced with kind permission from the authors:
The Art of Communicating with Your Child: Strategies for Inspiring the Champion Mindset in Every Young Person, a book by Chiem and co-author Brian Caswell.
TO LEAD YOUR CHILD’S MIND, BE A GREAT COMMUNICATOR FIRST.
The Four ‘Golden Rules’ for Inspired and Inspiring Communication with Your Child
‘The best brought-up children are those who have seen their parents as they are. Hypocrisy is not the parents’ first duty.(30)’ — George Bernard Shaw
Karl Gustav Jung — one of the Twentieth Century’s most influential and insightful thinkers in the field of developmental psychology — wrote: ‘If there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could better be changed in ourselves.(31)’
Our role as adults is to inspire and guide — especially in times of high pressure — and we can only achieve this if the channels of communication remain open.
This part of the book looks at the Four Golden Rules of Communication with young people:
1. Be Aware of the Young Person’s ‘Processing Limitations’
2. Give Your Full Attention to All the Possibilities in a Communication Situation — No Matter What the Distractions.
3. Balance Praise and Criticism — Provide Support While Encouraging Independence
4. Develop Strategies for Controlling the Negative Emotion in Any Situation
Mastery of these four ‘golden rules’ can and does open the door to better communication between parents/teachers and the most important people in their lives. How many of them do you follow?
Golden Rule Number One: Be Aware of the Young Person’s ‘Processing Limitations’
When talking with your child or teenager:
i) Ask just one question at a time
ii) Allow the young person to finish speaking, instead of attempting to anticipate his/her answers
iii) Avoid the temptation to interrupt his/her answers, even if the words suggest a response
Young people are not built as well as adults to cope with stress, due to the fact that the pre-frontal cortex of their brain is still developing. They are, therefore, far more likely to respond with their ‘unthinking’ emotions than with their logical faculties, when challenges arise.
This means that you — as the adult — must be the one to ‘control’ the situation, and avoid creating unnecessary frustration. Inspiration is about empowering the young person to achieve and you can only do this if you are communicating effectively — and without emotional misunderstanding.
i) Asking ‘Double-Barrelled’ Questions: If you ask two or more part-questions, you will probably only get the answer to one part — and very likely set up a defensive reaction, which makes even that answer non-productive and uncommunicative. ‘Doubling up’ on questions comes across as aggressive and pressuring, even if that is not the intention. Remember, communication is as much about perception as it is the meaning of the actual words.
But more than that, research at the University of Minnesota shows that adolescents and teenagers, due to the fact that their ‘neural circuitry’ is still in a state of flux, are, under most circumstances, poor at ‘multi-tasking’. The neural connections between brain-cells — especially in the frontal cortex — are not sufficiently refined to process large amounts of information coming in simultaneously and demanding conscious attention. So, pressing them to focus on different aspects of a problem simultaneously can produce an internal tension, resulting in frustration and, on occasions, an almost involuntary anger reaction.
As the leader of the Minnesota study, Professor Monica Luciana said, ‘We need to keep their limitations in mind, especially when adolescents are confronted with demanding situations in the classroom, at home, or in social gatherings.(32)’
This is why your teenager will often react in an inappropriate and ‘extreme’ manner, to what appears to be a quite reasonable request — if that request happens to be made while he/she is concentrating on something else. It’s nothing personal, and it’s not intentional. It’s just what happens when the subconscious sense of ‘overload’ triggers a response in the young-person’s hyper-reactive amygdala (the ‘nonconscious’ seat of our reactive emotions).
When asking questions, you will elicit information better one point at a time.
ii) Interrupting or Anticipating Answers: If you do either of these things, you may be wrong, and even if you are right it will be disempowering for the young person. If you have asked the question, have the courtesy to listen to the answer before commenting.
‘Derailing’ the young person’s train of thought has the same effect as multiple questions — it forces them to consider more than one concept simultaneously, and can create the ‘overload’ effect referred to above. The last thing you need when trying to get to the heart of an issue is that kind of unnecessary tension.
For the other three ‘golden rules’, get your copy of The Art of Communicating with Your Child: Strategies for Inspiring the Champion Mindset in Every Young Person, available at Kinokuniya at S$25.68.