We communicate daily. We don’t always communicate effectively.
The importance of communication skills cannot be overlooked. When we use Effective Communication with our kids we create a compound effect that helps our children throughout their lives.
Effective Communication is more than just the words we speak. It’s how we get our message across. It’s our voice tone, our body language, our actions, etc. We can improve communication skills by using the steps of Effective Communication.
Effective Communication allows us to monitor our non-verbal cues and helps our child feel understood. When we use Effective Communication we know what we heard is what they were trying to say. Removing so much of the “miscommunication” that takes place.
When a child feels heard, even if we don’t always agree with what they’re saying, it goes a long way to strengthen and build our relationship. It also gives them confidence that they can express themselves in any situation, without getting frustrated or angry.
This is episode 49. Let’s get started.
Smarter Parenting welcomes you to our podcast series, The Parenting Coach for ADHD. Here to heal and elevate lives is your Parenting Coach, Siope Kinikini.
Hello, my people. How are you, my friends? Hopefully, everyone is doing great. I am doing fantastic. I am super excited to be talking to you today about Effective Communication.
Now before we begin, I do need to give a shout out to the Utah Youth Village. Smarter Parenting is a division of the Utah Youth Village. It is through the donations of people who are supporting the charity, which is the Utah Youth Village, that allows us to provide this podcast to you. So, we want to give a huge shout out to anyone who’s donated to help carry this message out to the world. If you are able to, we would ask you to please make a donation to Smarter Parenting or to the Utah Youth Village.
Now, today we are going to be talking about one of the most essential skills that you will ever run across that will be beneficial to you and your child for the rest of your lives. Effective Communication.
During this podcast, I want to talk about why Effective Communication is so important. I want to talk also about who can use it? Who is it beneficial for? I want to talk also about some nuances in how we communicate non-verbally, as well as talk about the skill and how it’s effective. Why it’s effective for children, especially children with ADHD, in learning how to do this.
I will also be sharing some examples, some personal examples and some professional examples, of me being able to see how this skill is being used with families. Also, how I have integrated it into my regular communication with people. Let’s get started.
Let’s first talk about why it’s important. Now, everyone can agree that communication is important. From the beginning of time, when people tried to communicate through pictures and through movement and through dance, we’ve actually evolved to a place where we can communicate using words. And yet, words are sometimes not sufficient to communicate real ideas. We get general things.
For example, I can say the sky is blue and you can hear the sky is blue. And yet, in my mind the picture that I have of what blue means and the picture of what you have in your mind of what blue means may be completely different.
So, there are limitations in the words that we communicate with each other. Effective Communication helps us delve deeper into what are the feelings also involved with the words that we are communicating with? So, the skill of Effective Communication is helping us better understand communication kind of more as a whole rather than just as words. We’re just going to communicate as words or as text.
How many of you have ever text something to somebody and it came across different to them than the way that you intended it? I’ve done that a lot. So, I will send a text out thinking it’s super hilarious, my daughter will get it and she’ll think that, “I don’t understand what you’re talking about.” Not Effective Communication.
And yet, when we do Effective Communication here with Smarter Parenting, with the Teaching-Family Model, what we’re doing is we’re incorporating more than just what we’re hearing, but also what we’re seeing, what we’re feeling, what the other person is feeling. I mean, it creates this whole dynamic of how we can communicate more effectively.
This is essential for your child to be a successful adult. If they are going to succeed, they need to learn how to communicate effectively. Especially when they disagree with something, on how to overcome that and come to a solution.
So, why is it important? This skill of Effective Communication from the Teaching-Family Model is important because it will provide you and your child this area where you can communicate openly with each other, and communicate freely, and actually come to a deeper meaning, a deeper connection. Now remember, all the skills on Smarter Parenting are focused on building and strengthening relationships between children and parents and people. This is going to be essential.
Now, I’m going to share also another reason why it’s important. At least for me. I started teaching this skill to my daughter when she was really young, and we have continually used it. Now she’s 16 and we still use it. We’ve made some adaptions. As she’s gotten older, she’s starting to formulate her own ideas and her own thoughts and her own processes. They’re not always in harmony with what I think or what I believe, but that’s okay because Effective Communication has allowed us to talk about those things.
They can be simple things or they can be more difficult things. One of the more simple things with my daughter is clothing. For some reason I am not a fashionable person at all. I’m not. I just am not. For her, she likes to dress in what teenagers are wearing nowadays and what’s comfortable. Sometimes we’ll have a discussion about what she’s wearing, because sometimes she’ll go outside without a coat on. And so, I’m like, “Hey, well you should wear a coat. It’s cold outside.” And she’s like, “Well, I’m not cold.” And then, it starts this conversation.
Anyways, using the skills of Effective Communication helped me understand her better, and for her to understand me better. We may not agree, but at least we can communicate about it. We can come to a consensus that hey, it’s okay. We’re looking at this in different ways, but we’re going to be okay. And that’s okay.
Why is it important? It’s important for a lot of reasons. It helps you communicate better with your child. It builds your relationship with your child. Strengthens that relationship. It lets your child feel like they’re being heard and they’re being communicated with. It’s a deeper communication than just sharing words back and forth, and losing intention and losing meaning in that communication.
Now, who can use Effective Communication? I think that’s a no brainer. Everyone can use Effective Communication. I use Effective Communication also with married couples to help them communicate better. So, this is not anything that is restricted to just children or children with ADHD. This is something that you can use, and actually you can practice, with anyone you come across during your day.
If you have a neighbor that you want to practice this skill with? Do it. You don’t have to tell them what you’re doing, you can just do it. You’re going to find that you’re going to strengthen relationships with them a lot quicker. It’s just a given. When you follow these steps, it’s going to help you do that more effectively.
Now, I wanted to go over the steps of Effective Communication just so you understand what I’m talking about when I mention Effective Communication. Because there is communication, which is what most people do. And then, there’s Effective Communication, which are steps that we have in Smarter Parenting from the Teaching-Family Model that give an outline of how to do it and how to do it effectively.
There are six steps overall that we have in our video of Effective Communication. If you haven’t watched the video, I highly recommend you jump over to the Smarter Parenting website and look for the skill of Effective Communication.
Now, the steps to that. Step one is look at your child who is talking and pay attention to what he or she is saying. Step one. So, it’s paying attention and listening. We’re going to listen. We’re going to allow them to communicate.
Step two, once your child is finished, and that’s super important, once your child is finished speaking, you want to use their words to describe what you understood. You’re just going to repeat back what you understood from what they said. Try and use their words. You’re not going to mimic, you’re not going to be a parrot, but you’re just going to try and mimic what it is. You’re going to try and explain back to them what you understood.
Now after step two, step three is ask your child if what you said was what they meant. They will correct you if you’re wrong. You’re going to be able to notice this right away. Because they may say yes or no, but you’re going to be able to read it in their body language. You’re going to get a full body nod saying, “Yes, you exactly got what I’m saying.” Or you’re going to get a shake head no, which is, “That is not what I’m saying and you don’t understand what I’m saying.”
Step one, look at the child. Pay attention, listen to what they have to say. Number two, after they’re finished, you’re going to use their words to describe what you understood. Step three, you’re going to ask your child if what you said is what they meant. You’re going to look and see if they agree with that.
Once you’ve reached this point, you can express your opinion. So, step four is, in a calm manner, state your thoughts on the subject. So you can express, “Kid, this is what I feel about it,” or, “This is what I think about it.”
Now, step five actually gives them the opportunity to do what you did initially. They must repeat what they heard. They have to affirm they are right or correct in the communication of what you shared with them. So, they’re going to do exactly what you did.
Now, notice you actually did it first. You did it first to help de-escalate their anxiety of not being heard. You’ve actually shown them how to do it and now it’s their turn. So, they should listen to what you are saying and then repeat back what they understood. That’s when you will do a full bodied nod yes or a full head shake no. That will clarify whether or not they’re being understood or not. So, that’s step five.
Step six, you’re going to come to a solution if possible. And then if not, you go back and you can repeat the steps of where the miscommunication is happening.
Now these steps, they sound very simple. However, when you throw in emotion, and you throw in other things that are happening around you, it can become a little disjointed and a little difficult for you to apply, which is why role-playing is super important. You need to practice how to do this and you need to practice this often. Usually at a neutral time. The recommendation is when you’re first learning this skill, just start communicating about things that are fairly simple to do and then build from there to talk about other things.
So, if you’re going to start this skill off with your child, you may just ask them what happened at school today, okay? As long as it’s a topic that they can share and talk about, though you’re going to go through each of the steps.
For example, if my child came home and I was learning this skill and I was going to do it with my daughter, I would use step one. I would look at her and I would ask her a question. “How was school?” And then I would look at her, I’d pay attention to what she’s saying. Now, when she stopped speaking, I would repeat back what I heard, using her words, a few of her words in there, but just repeating back what I understood. And then, I would ask her, “So, is that correct?” And she would nod or she would shake her head no. And then, if she nodded and said yes, then I would share my thoughts on it. “Oh, okay. Well…” And then she, in turn, would have to repeat back what I said in her own way, right? And I would nod or I’d shake my head no, and I’d say yes or no, and then make corrections. And then, we would move on from there, right? Those are the steps. That’s how I would implement it with my child.
I know while I’ve been doing these podcasts and actually sharing this information online, a lot of people find it more helpful if I give an example. It’s kind of like a Role-play, but a Role-play with myself, which is okay, I don’t care.
So, let’s say my child came home and she had a tough day at school. Let’s say that she was. Actually, this happened. She came home and she was telling me about a friend of hers who was having a really hard time at school. And so, what I did was I just paid attention to her. She’s like, “Well…”
I’ll be my daughter. This is my daughter. And she’s like, “Dad, so like my friend kept talking about having a hard time because she feels like she’s being bullied and I don’t know what to do. It just makes me nervous. I just want to help her, but I don’t know what I should do.” Then it would move to me, my turn, I would be like, “Oh.” She was finished speaking. So, “Oh, so you are telling me that you have a friend at school and your friend at school is being bullied and you want to help but you’re not exactly sure what to do?”
At that point I got a full body yes, or a head shake yes. And then I’d say, “Well, this is what I think.” I explained my point of view. I said, “Well, bullying is something that I don’t condone at all. I don’t believe that that is a kid issue to resolve. That is an adult issue that needs to be resolved in the school to fix it. Because if not her, it’ll be somebody else. So, my recommendation is to talk to a school counselor and a teacher and let them know what’s happening.”
My daughter, because she’s used to this skill, she went to step five, which is she repeated what I said. “So dad, you think I should talk to my Hope Squad teacher? My teacher in school about this?” And I said, “Yes.” I gave her a nod yes. And then she’s like, “Okay.” And then, I actually continue to communicate with her. “I think you should do that tomorrow. I think you need to talk to her and tell her what’s going on.”
That’s an example of how Effective Communication can be actually fairly quick if you all agree. And then, if things need to be adjusted and explained a little more deeper, you can do that during this interaction.
On the Smarter Parenting website, you can actually print these steps out. I highly recommend you print it out and keep it by you as you practice it until it becomes natural and normal for you to do. So, do that. Go over there. Watch the video lesson on Effective Communication. Print out the steps.
Now, the video itself on the Smarter Parenting website will give you examples of how to use it with a young child and how to use it with a teenager, so you can get more ideas on what it looks like and how it feels. So, jump over to the Smarter Parenting website to watch that lesson. It’s essential. And then practice, practice, practice.
I wanted to talk about body language and how we communicate with our body, which is non-verbal. We depend a lot and we think that our words are the only way we communicate, but our bodies also communicate non-verbally. Our voice tone communicates as well. Our facial expressions, they communicate as well. We need to be cognizant of how we are interacting when we are effectively communicating with a child.
With a family that I was working with, it was super interesting to notice. There’s a young lady I was working with who had some self-destructive behaviors. She had some suicidal thoughts. She was struggling. She was having a hard time. What I found with her is that what she said and what she was doing didn’t match. What did I believe? I believed, actually, not the words at all. I believed the behavior and the actions.
She was actually shipped over to a hospital where they could monitor and watch her. I remember walking into the room and she was picking at her skin. Really, really just picking. She broke skin and it was starting to bleed and scab. She had been in there for probably about two weeks or so. As I sat down and she saw me, she kept picking it that. And then I’d say, “Well, so tell me how you’re doing right now.” She would be like, “Oh, I’m great. I’m just great,” while she continually picked at her hands. I was like, “Okay, you’re telling me you’re doing great and yet you keep picking at this thing that’s bleeding. We need to talk about that and we need to fix that.”
In working with her, we actually worked on how do you become more aware of your communication? What you’re saying and what you’re doing need to match in your Effective Communication.
I worked with another parent who was actually super hilarious. I loved working with this family. What I found was in the way that they communicated, they always yelled. It was just a family that spoke really loud and everything had an exclamation point to it. Now, I’m not saying that that’s a bad thing, because some families are like that. That’s okay as long as you’re able to effectively communicate what you’re trying to communicate.
However, when we worked on how he could change his voice tone in order to get different reactions from his children, he found it super amazing that if he actually started talking softer, his children would start talking softer. And so, we implemented these techniques into how he was using Effective Communication. It was interesting to see him actually start off super loud and then move back and be calm, and how his children actually started to follow the calmness in the communication pattern. Another way to do that would be to just be aware of how you’re saying things. We communicate in so many different ways.
There is an example of something that I do when I’m working with a very irate parent. Sometimes I’m working with a parent who is extremely upset. What I notice is their body language. I notice how they’re standing. Are their arms folded? Are they angry? Do they have a scowl? I pay attention to their voice. Is it short, concise words? Are they speaking loudly? I pay attention to the pacing. I mean, there’s a lot of things you can pick up that are not really verbal but like physical, and combined with the verbal that helped me understand better what this person is experiencing.
I will share this. I was working with a parent who was super upset. Very, very angry. Angry at me because they felt like I wasn’t helping them enough. In their anger, they just had to express it all. So, this is exactly what I did is I followed the steps to Effective Communication. What I found in doing that is allowing them to communicate until they were finished helped to decrease his stress levels and help him to feel more understood. And then, when he was done after five minutes of expressing everything, his frustration, then I went back and I used his words to describe what I understood. And so, I understood it.
But in my communication back to him, I actually spoke a little bit slower and a little bit softer in order to de-escalate the mood that was happening between us. After I explained what I understood from what he said, he’s like, “Well, that’s half of it. Now here’s the other half.” Then he started again, and I let him go until he was finished. Then I repeated that back. And then he finally said, “Yes. Yes, that’s exactly it.”
I noticed that when we got to that point, he was calm. He was calm. And so, then after I repeated back what I understood, I then was able to express how I felt about it. My own thoughts. By expressing that, and then I asked him, “Well, what do you think?” And he was still learning the skill, but I’m like, “Can you just tell me what you understood from what I just said?” And then he went through and then I had to make some corrections here and there. What I notice is in our Effective Communication, we talked about a very difficult subject, but we were able to bring it from a high level red alert number ten, all the way down to a one where we could talk about it logically and in a calm manner.
It’s interesting when your children are yelling and screaming and acting out in the communication that you’re having with them, it’s a dance because they need… You can lead them to something that’s slower if you are aware. You need to be self-aware of how you’re communicating. Pay attention to how you’re communicating.
I had one mentor while I was going to school who was talking about Effective Communication. He said, “You can communicate anything you want, but there are ways to communicate it more effectively than others. So, you can give the same exact message, but the way you present the message will determine how people react to the message.” In using Effective Communication, you actually are providing a way for them to de-escalate, to calm down, to feel understood, to feel like, “Hey, this person cares about me and this communication is effective.”
I just wanted to be sure that you understood Effective Communication. We went through the steps. How you do it, how effective it’s been. It’s a skill that I continually use. I come from a family of seven sisters and two brothers. We meet every month and we talk about things. Now, we’re all adults but we do not agree on everything, which is normal of a family. And so, our ability to effectively communicate is essential for us to maintain the peace, to be able to move forward, and to have those relationships that we want.
I used it actually last week with my family when we met for a big family meeting. In being able to hear different points of view from different people, and then repeating back what I heard, getting a clarification that that’s what they meant and then expressing my own thoughts. What I found is the more I did that, because I was leading the discussion, the more I did that with everybody in the group, the more they started doing it with each other.
Some people still disagreed, but you know what? It was okay. Everybody was okay with that. That’s the beauty of Effective Communication. If you start young and you continually foster it and it becomes a natural part of your life, that you’re going to see your family remain intact when you get older and those relationships will be stronger than anything else. You’ll be able to talk about very difficult subjects without being overcome with emotion or overrun with feelings of anger or frustration. It kind of eliminates those things and gives you a format that you can communicate more effectively.
Oh my goodness, we have covered so much today. Effective communication is one of my all-time favorites. We are going to come back and revisit Effective Communication.
I do want to share, probably in the future podcasts, some of the skills that I learned as a sign language interpreter, because I did sign language interpreting for a while when I was younger. Just learning communicating without using words. I became very aware of my body and my placement. It’s such a nuance thing, but it’s one of those things that is super applicable to this skill of communicating effectively.
Also, we’re going to cover in a future podcast how can you communicate something that’s very, very triggering for your child? Something that makes your child angry every time you talk about it. I’m going to teach you in a future podcast how to communicate with your child about those topics without having it go out of control. That deserves its whole episode by itself. It really does. Using Effective Communication and then talking a little bit about body language and placement and all of that is incorporated into how you can defuse your child who is triggered by something and communicate with them in a more productive, effective way that continually builds your relationship and strengthens those bonds.
Oh my goodness, people. I feel like I have just been talking my head off about Effective Communication. The reason is because I am super excited about it and I really, really, really want parents to implement it and have it become a natural part.
So, print down the steps. They’re available on the Smarter Parenting website. Watch the video. Julie is the narrator on there. She’s fantastic. Julie explains the steps. She gives you some examples. You will see some examples of different families using Effective Communication. That will help you really cement this concept, because it’s one of those concepts that will benefit you for the rest of your life and your child for the rest of theirs. That’s it for me. I will see you again next time. See you.