There are some people who just know how to say the right thing and the right time, warming people’s hearts wherever they go and are good to be around. They have the gift of being effective communicators. They have the right words for every occasion and know when, how and what to say.

Words are that powerful. Words can be used to create peace, build connections between people, promote goodwill and soothe anger.

This is even more true in parenting. Now, when we are sheltering at home, our words can be our best tool. We too can learn to be effective communicators. With the right words we can connect with our children, deepen our relationship and smooth out any tension.

Using your words, knowing when, how and what to say can be a lifesaver during this time.

1. When:

Young children are not at their best when they are tired, hungry, off schedule and have not gotten some undivided attention from their parents. It is the same for teens. Effective communicators avoid serious conversations, requesting help or even engaging in conversation at these times.

2. How:

I know it’s a lot to ask, but effective communicators keep their tone as gentle and calm as possible. When children get mouthy and things get tense, they don’t meet their disrespect or anger with disrespect or anger. They know that that’s when things get out of control. They count to ten, take break, grab a drink of water and don’t engage with their kids when they are out of sorts.

They also don’t accuse or blame because it is usually an invitation for a confrontation. They know that kids become hurt and defensive when they hear, “Who left the milk out?” or “I can’t believe you forgot to take out the garbage!”

3. What:

Keeping the calm:

So, what can we say to our kids when emotions are running high and no one is in the best of moods? How can we keep our tone gentle and calm?

Effective communicators usually have a few pat phrases to help keep their annoyance in check:

“I am going to take a break to calm down.”
“Let’s try this again, calmly…”
“Oh boy! Let’s regroup when we are in a better mood.”

But what if you really need to have that discussion or dinner needs to get on the table ASAP.

It’s helpful to initiate the conversation with the following:

“Is this a good time for you?”
“Are you available now?”
“I know you are really (tired, hungry, off schedule) the problem is, I need help now…”

No Pointing Fingers:

Instead of accusations and blaming effective communicators keep their statements neutral and non-confrontational:

“Milk spoils when its left out. Let’s work on remembering that!”
“Can the person who is supposed to take out the garbage, please take out the garbage.”
“I am sure you didn’t mean to; your bike was left out in the rain last night.”

I” statements:

Effective communicators use “I” statements liberally:

Stay away from hurtful statements, like: “You guys are driving me crazy.” Or “Stop being so annoying!”

Instead say:

“I am getting upset”
“I need a few minutes of quiet and then I will be ready to help you.”
“I am busy with Eli right now. In 5 minutes, I will be ready to help you.”

One Word:

When building and maintaining relationships, less is usually more. Effective communicators avoid long and accusatory statements and questions, and keep it simple:

Instead of: “What are you doing? We don’t poke people with pencils!” or “You can’t play with the scooter that way; that’s not safe!”

Say:

“The pencil!”
“The scooter!”

Express Gratitude:

Above all, effective communicators show appreciation. That is what really makes people feel good. We often forget that children also want to be valued for their contributions.

We can say:

“I really appreciate that your jobs were done. When everyone pitches in and does their jobs, this house run smoothly.”
“Wow! We worked really hard to get Shabbos ready! I could not have done it without your help!”

Using words constructively, keeps your house peaceful. But there’s more to it, it gives children a living model on how they can be effective communicators as well.