In this section, you will learn how to effectively demonstrate positive communication techniques.
The learning objectives for this section are as follows:
- Describe your personal approaches for communicating with your children.
- Describe ways to improve your methods for communicating with your children.
- Identify important considerations when discussing difficult topics with your children.
Communicating with your child can be challenging, especially when you have emotional and physical challenges.
Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
Select the Play Button to review Matt and Crystal talking about emotional challenges in the home.
Communication is the key to successful relationships.
Positive communication with your child will help them develop confidence, self-esteem, and healthy relationships.
Select the Play Button to watch Matt and his family talk about communication challenges.
Select the Learn More Button for more information on reintegrating with your family.
In order to begin practicing positive communications, you must understand the steps in the process:
- Step 1: Know your communication style.
- Step 2: Devise ways to manage your stress levels.
- Step 3: Set appropriate expectations for your child(ren), based on their age.
Select the Learn More Button to review each step in detail.
Step 1: Know Your Communication Style
Some parts of the military communication style express important values, such as respect, pride and manners. Others, however, may not be as helpful at home. Are you still using a military communication style at home? Take a short survey to find out.
Step 2: Devise ways to manage your stress levels
If you are experiencing distress, it may be difficult to be patient with and pay attention to your child. Self-care and stress reduction strategies can help you have more energy for parenting.
Physical activity, whether it is working out or going for a walk, can help clear your mind, calm you down, and help you feel better.
Take time for the things you enjoy. Schedule time to enjoy a hobby or work on something that brings you joy.
Schedule some relaxation time. Though your schedule might be full, try and add just five minutes a day of quiet time to reflect, relax, meditate, or pray.
Socialize with other adults. Making time to socialize with friends, family, and peers is also important for your personal health.
Step 3: Set appropriate expectations for your child(ren), based on their age
As your child grows and changes, you may need to get a sense of their new capabilities, skills, and emotions.
Play the True or False game to test your knowledge about children's developmental stages.
Here are a few communication strategies you can use at home that can lead to positive interactions with your child:
- Active Listening
- Expressing your love
- Giving positive reinforcement
- Supporting your child
Select the Play Button to hear how Edwin learned to communicate with each of his daughters upon returning home, based on their age and individual personality.
Select the Learn More Button to review each strategy in detail.
Another important part of positive parent-child communications is to talk openly about difficult topics.
Before you can have the difficult conversations, you have to know and understand your communication style.
Select the Play Button to observe how Edwin and his wife complement each other with their communication styles.
Select the Learn More Button to review useful strategies for talking with your children about difficult topics.
Don't Ignore the "Elephant" in the Room
Children are naturally curious. If you have been through a deployment or are having difficulty at home, your child will ask questions to make sense of what is going on now or what may have happened in the past.
Select the Play Button to watch Edwin's daughters talk about why it's important for them to ask about and understand their dad's deployment experiences.
Anticipating Really Hard Questions
Often your child's questions will be based on their own understanding about the topic. You should anticipate getting some very hard questions.
Here are some examples of questions you may be asked.
Where did you go?
How has your job affected you?
I don't agree with your job. Why are you still doing it?
Why did you go away?
What was the most stressful part of your trip?
Are you going away again?
How could you mess up my life like this?
Was is worth it?
If you love me so much, why did you leave?
Identify What Your Child Really Wants to Know
Based on the age of your child, their questions may not always convey what they're really worried about.
Use the Arrow Buttons to go through each child's questions about your military experience. Can you figure out what they are really asking?
Once you have a basic understanding about what your child wants to know, there is a strategy you can follow to help guide your conversation.
When you are ready for your child’s questions:
- Acknowledge and respect your child’s curiosity or concern.
- Find out what they know about the topic.
If you are struggling emotionally or having a hard time talking about your experiences:
- Ask your child to share their questions or concerns with other supportive adults or older siblings.
- Talk with your child’s other parent about what to say and decide together how much information you want to share with the child.
- Be sure to correct any misinformation or misinterpretations your child may have.
Creating A Parenting Plan
While you were away, roles and responsibilities may have changed within your family to keep things going. Talking with your child's other parent will help you figure out a plan to ease back into your parenting role.
Review the instructions, then complete the activity by selecting each picture and choosing any option . Once done, print your parenting plan.
Select each of the images to review common concerns. Use the check box to select any of the ideas you would like to discuss with your child's other parent.
Use the print button to print your selection.
Summary and Conclusion
Engaging in positive communication strategies with your child(ren) is a process and will take some time. You can expect some bumps in the road, as well as great joy, in having a close relationship with your child again.
The key is to make the effort to improve communications within your home and help your family stay strong together.
Feel free to download and use these Tip Sheets as you continue to reconnect with your family.