Many parents worry about their children experimenting with drugs as they grow older. What a lot of parents don’t realise, is that one of the best ways to protect children against many risky behaviours is by developing a strong, positive relationship with them.
If we want to build a supportive and positive relationship, we need to be able to talk to our children – good communication is essential. Having open dialogue means we can then help our children if:
If our children do come to us with these, or other issues, we need to be able to deal calmly with the situation, otherwise they may feel they can’t talk to us or tell us things.
Why not try some of the techniques below for strengthening communication.
A closed question requires only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, so it doesn’t really help a conversation to develop.
Use open questions. They are more helpful in opening lines of communication because they encourage discussion. For example, ‘How did you feel about that?’ is likely to get more honest feedback than ‘Did that make you cross?’
Try practising this with another adult who you know well! It’s a skill that can be improved and the more you practise the more natural it will become!
It’s easy to forget to praise your child. Here are some examples:
Verbal: Describe positively how they look or what they have done that you like: ‘Thanks for clearing up – that really helped’, or ‘That colour really suits you!’ Descriptive praise can be very powerful.
Non-verbal: smiles, positive touch (that the child likes), eye contact.