By Amanda Stokes
I often think it’s an odd thing that the only experience we have when we become a parent is that of having been a child to one. It’s worth reflecting on. So much of who we become as a parent is based on our own experiences. If your own parents were overly authoritative, you may have gone the opposite way; alternatively if your parents lacked structure and boundaries, you may have a similar parenting style because you know no other way.
I run with the mantra that we are all doing the best job we know how, but when we know better we can be better.
Here are my top tips for improving communication with your tween daughter:
1. Know your communication style..
Are you reactive? Do you blow up easily? Are you an ‘I told you so’ parent? Are you a pushover? Do you worry your daughter won’t like you and so you try to appease her by treading on egg shells? Now think of how your daughter treats you. Is she rude and argumentative? Is she dismissive? There is often a correlation between the way we talk to our girls and the way they respond. It’s imperative we become self aware here. If you know that you get angry easily, then don’t be surprised if your daughter returns fire. If she responds with a snarky tone and you deliver snarky right back at her, then it’s no shock that you’ll often find yourself in a battle of words. Monkey see monkey do, and if you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always get.
2. Practice the pause..
Once you’ve figured out how you’re communicating with your daughter, exercise the pause, whether that be by counting to 10, or asserting a personal boundary by saying “I’m feeling really angry/frustrated/ so we’ll talk about this when we’ve both cooled down”. The pause is powerful because it buys time and it allows for you both to return to the conversation without the heat. A volcanic eruption can’t be stopped, it needs to run its course and when we’re fired up, we lead with emotion and often say things we don’t mean.
The pause is also an effective way to role model a more positive calming strategy for our daughters.
3. Be consistent. .
It can be so hard when life is hectic, and you’re juggling so many balls to be consistent in our parenting approach, but consistency is key.
If you allow something one day and then don’t allow it the next, these mixed messages impact whatever it is you’re trying to achieve. We also want to avoid being the nagger. Having to ask over and over to have jobs done, and having these requests fall on deaf ears, can lead to an escalation in our tone and frustration. A great way to work around this, is to just use one word. If you want the dishwasher done, just say “dishwasher” and give a time frame for that job to be completed in, say within 30 minutes. What this does is it makes our children feel like they have some autonomy over the ‘when’. It’s a great step towards them further developing their growing independence. Setting up a shared Family Agreement – Chapter 1 in The Tween Mother’s Tool Book: Raising Strong Daughters, can help with dealing with the consequences of non-compliance.
Whatever you do, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. The best thing about life, is that tomorrow always gives you a fresh day and a new opportunity to start over.
For more tips on raising strong daughters, Amanda’s new book The Tween Mother’s Tool Book: Raising Strong Daughters, an activity based guide promoting connection, reflection and effective communication between a mother and her daughter is available now from www.raisingstrongdaughters.com.au
You can also follow her on Instagram @raisingstrongdaughters_