Talking to Your Children

If you've read my bio, you'll know that I've taught martial arts/sexual assault prevention for 16 years.  More than half of the people I taught were kids of all ages.  Eventually, I came to disagree with the one size fits all treatment way of teaching.  The problem comes from looking at a group class and not see the individuals.  Soon I'd started my business of teaching privately, focusing on the individual. Kids represent an interesting puzzle.  They're very much like adults.  They think about adult things, they try and act on adult decisions, but many times they don't have the wisdom or knowledge on how to go about it.  This is where the parent is essential.  Here's what I've learned from teaching hundreds upon hundreds of kids:

  1. Always listen.
    • Specifically listen for words that'll indicate whether they need your help or not.  Sometimes kids, just like adults, need to let go of the thousands of thoughts that go through their minds.
    • If you can't read whether they need help or not, then ask them.
  2. Listen without judgment.
    • Parents always complain to me about their kids losing their trust.  I think it's even worse to lose the trust of your child.  Lose the trust of your child, you lose the ability to truly help.
    • If your child has done drugs, had sex, drank alcohol, it may come down to a couple of things.
      • They're dealing with issues of emptiness, loneliness, nonacceptance, isolation, etc.  Some form of connection has been lost.  It's the reason why kids of divorced parents tend to succumb to things like drugs, or kids join gangs, or kids seeking sex to feel that lost connection.
      • They're being forced to do something they don't want to do.  The source of this could be a parent forcing them to do well in school, molestation of some kind, nagging  adults - parents, coach, teacher, bullying.  One thing that most parents or adults realize is that kids know what they want and don't.  That doesn't mean you don't guide them to do well in school, or go to sleep at a reasonable hour, or talk to them about sex, drugs, alcohol.  But decisions on social activities, academic activities, family activities should be a dialogue between parent and child.
  3. Ask questions.
    • Whether they've threw up all their problems, or keep quiet, ask questions.  Even if they don't say anything, it will open up lines of communication.  But please ask questions on what they've talked about first.  Once and if they've answered those, then a door may be opened for you to ask other questions that may concern you.
    • If they ask you what you think or what to do, turn the question around and ask them.  This is a really great way of finding out how mature your child is.  Many times I've found that my client knew what to do, but didn't know if it was correct.  If they're solution to their issue made sense, I'd congratulate them for coming up with it, then I'd agree.
    • Follow up with them to see if they've followed through.  Again, listen, don't judge, ask questions, and guide them.
  4. If your kids don't have any serious issues like having sex too early, use of drugs, etc, then you've got a great kid.  Again, most of the parents I work with don't count their blessings.  They focus on what their kids don't have.  "They got a B instead of an A."  So what?  They're healthy, happy, and in your life.  Remember, you wanted to have kids.
  5. Last tip, view your kids as adults.  They may not be 18, but their core characteristics will remain for the rest of their lives.  There was a study that stated once a child is three years old, their personality had been developed and ingrained.
    • This brings up an important point.  Start discipline early.  Too many times I've seen spoiled children run over their parents.