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This week we look at Asset #2, Positive Family Communication. According to the Search Institute, “Youth are more likely to grow up healthy when they and their parents communicate positively and they are willing to seek parent’s advice and counsel.”
There are two things that come to my mind when I think about this topic. I remember a comic strip when I was young called The Far Side. The first frame had an adult talking to a dog saying stuff one would say to a dog. You know, something along the lines of, “Now remember Ginger, you should stay off the coach and Ginger, don’t chase the cat,” and it continued. The next frame told you what the dog hears and it went something like this. “Ginger, blah, blah, blah, blah, Ginger, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
As the mother of three, I think children are the same as Ginger. They may only hear one out of every three words you say, so make it something good.
The other thing that comes to mind was a report on a talk show about things kids carry with them all of their lives. It was about a little girl who had a father who called her thunder thighs. It was meant for fun and then the nickname stuck forever. The girl was destroyed inside and never able to get over the damage it did to her mentally.
I see something similar today when bystanders at sporting events, either for the home team or the away team spend the whole time screaming at the kids. I don’t mean yelling in support, I mean screaming at them as if everything they did was wrong. It makes me hope that they get to hear something positive after the event. The reason is because if your kids respect you out of fear, that isn’t the same as unconditional love, which it should be.
It is the reason that they say to catch kids doing good. When you find something good about a youth and comment positively, it is more likely to reinforce the behavior for them to do it again. Remember, you might be the only person in the course of their day who says something nice or even anything at all.
If that still doesn’t answer your dilemma, consider the Family Strengths Network class called Family Solutions. It helps communications skills and styles and teaches both youth and adults how to get along. It is available to anyone in the community.
Another wonderful resource in the community is Leadership Los Alamos and Los Alamos Youth Leadership. The orientation for these wonderful programs begins with a tool to learn about communication styles. The facilitators from On the Edge Productions walk participants through four types of personalities. The interesting thing is when you learn what style someone is, you can get along with them much better.
I particularly enjoyed it because there were only four personality types to remember; the older I get, the less information stays in my memory bank. It also used humor to try and understand how people receive information. So if you’re a data person, creative, the one that just likes to get things over with or the one that brings baked goods to everything (that’s me), you understand how people need to receive their information to be successful.
Only 30 percent of youth nationwide feel like they have this Asset in their lives and it is one that shouldn’t be so hard to acquire.
You can begin by being available to talk and for goodness sakes put down the cell phone.
The number of opportunities wasted because everyone is on the cell phone on unimportant conversations blows my mind.
When you notice a child hanging around, see if they need to discuss something, or just want to talk. Ask open ended questions so you don’t get the typical yes or no answer. Try and seek their opinion or advice about something. If you’ve had a bad day at work, just let them know it has nothing to do with them.
You shouldn’t expect every conversation to be perfect, but you need to start sometime and better late than never.
Bernadette Lauritzen is the Assets In Action Coordinator, sponsored by the Los Alamos Chamber of Commerce and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.
She can be heard Mondays from 9-10 am on www.krsnam1490.com. This week she looks at two upcoming fundraisers.