Founder, Michelle Tingler says, “We believe ‘Opinionated Mamas’ can be a constructive voice in sorting out the social and political issues of our time and that together, with a little humor and a lot of common sense, America's moms can get to the heart of the issues that matter most to our kids and our country. Most importantly, moms need to know how to communicate these issues to our kids, so that the lessons we are conveying stick with them as they grow, so they will be happy, healthy, well-adjusted citizens. We need to make sure CHANGE BEGINS AT HOME."
Here are O-MAMA’s founders, Michelle Tingler and Debbie Devine, top 10 tips to effectively communicate with your kids:
1. KEEP IT SIMPLE:
Communication is key in any relationship, but it has to be really straight-forward, clear and consistent when you are talking to your kids. So, "say what you mean." Think about what you want them to DO, and then express it clearly, simply and concisely. Otherwise, they tune out and hear wah, wah, wah. When dealing with kids, it’s best to just lay it out there and not leave it up to interpretation. No beating around the bush. No hemming and hawing.
2. GET ON THEIR LEVEL:
Make sure you and your child are physically on the same level, so everyone is eye to eye when speaking. Otherwise, they'll get distracted looking at your zipper! Also, eyeball to eyeball says you mean business and you can be sure they've gotten the message.
3. ALLOW FOR LISTENING:
Speak slowly enough for them to be able to take in what you are saying. When you are finished, ask them if they’ve understood what has been said. If they are unclear, ask them to explain what they think you said...it's kind of like the game telephone...try not to laugh!
4. THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY:
Take into consideration their point of view. Everyone has their unique perspective on any given subject and kids are no different. They might have an interesting insight into how they perceive the issue, how they felt at the time or what might work for them next time in terms of keeping themselves in line. Their solution might be totally off base, or might have some merit. At least be open to hearing their side because it will empower them to communicate better...and that might even encourage them to behave better.
5. MESSAGE RECEIVED
Give them a chance to acknowledge the message. It makes children and adults alike feel good to be heard, and a simple acknowledgement like “I understand what you said” or even an “I heard you, but I disagree” helps further communication.
6. DO YOUR HOMEWORK
When stating an opinion on an issue, or explaining why something could be harmful be prepared to back it up, especially when dealing with teenagers. Do your homework. Know the subject in and out. Have some examples to throw out...fancy stats are good, but pictures are worth a thousand words! (i.e., when talking about the importance of safe driving, show them a picture of a car wreck). Earn respect by demonstrating that consideration has been given as to why this is a “big deal.”
7. FOLLOW THROUGH
“Mean what you say.” Do not make idol threats. When outlining consequences to a behavior, make sure they are realistic and be prepared to follow through. Consistency is key. If the follow through is wishy washy, it will not be credible.
8. SET THE EXAMPLE
Good communication requires both parties, regardless of age...pecking order...relationship, using and demonstrating common sense and mutual respect. “Do as I say and not as I do,” does not get the job done with kids. Be prepared to talk the talk and walk the walk.
9. DON’T TO BE AFRAID TO SAY NO
Remember, you don’t have to be their friend, they don’t have to always like us, they just need to know we love them all the time, and sometimes that means saying "NO!” Sometimes saying no can be the most loving thing you can do.
10. MOM KNOWS BEST
Go with your gut. No one knows your kids like you do. You know what’s in their best interest, so be confident in what and how you communicate.
To see Michelle and Debbie in action, click here to view their latest video: