So what about you and your needs as a parent? When do your thoughts and feelings get expressed? When and how do your needs and wants get the attention? According to the Behavior Window, you can feel completely free to send your own messages and pursue your own needs whenever your child is not owning the upset or problem, namely, in the No Problem Area and in the Parent Owns the Problem Area.
A major principle of P.E.T.(Parent Effectiveness Training) is that the effective parent is an assertive parent. She is direct and honest in her communication and action. this is different from being aggressive. the assertive parent values herself and her needs and takes the initiative for meeting those needs while still considering and respecting the needs of others. Assertiveness is a healthy, desirable attribute of parents, for it is only the parent whose needs are met, whose “cup is full,” who can truly give of himself to his children — share his cup of resources, energies, and caring with another person. Assertiveness and helpfulness, rather than being antagonistic principles, are complementary and mutually reinforcing.
The key to assertiveness is self-disclosure — knowing what you value, need, and want and sharing those thoughts and feelings with your children, your spouse, and others. Self-disclosure is important because many of our needs must be met through our relationships. indeed, we often must gain the cooperation of our children, family members, or others to get what we want — to meet our goals as parents and as persons.
Self-disclosure is communication which describes you, your inner experiences, literally — your self. Self-disclosing messages are about your beliefs and ideas, your likes and dislikes, your feelings, thoughts, and reactions. Self-disclosing messages let your children and others know how you feel and where you stand.
Self-disclosure is obviously easiest when we perceive that others share or agree with our own experience. Asserting ourselves is more difficult when we risk disagreement and resistance from others. We often fear opening ourselves up to possible judgment, evaluation, or criticism from others. Should I tell my husband how I feel about certain things? What might result? Can I share my values with my teenager without “turning her off”? Can I tell my friend about her irritating behavior without losing her friendship? Can I speak up at the school meeting without others feeling I’m a “trouble maker”? These are hard, sometimes frightening decisions to make. Our willingness to self-disclose, then, is largely determined by our feelings of trust in the intentions of the other person to support us or hurt us.
Ingredients of Effective Communication
You want your communications to be heard, understood and responded to in positive ways. Three key ingredients make this possible as well as help you to build and keep strong relationships with your children, partner and others. These communication ingredients include being:
Clear – simple uncomplicated and understandable. You as the sender need to be sure that what you are saying is presented in a way that makes it easy for the receiver, child or adult, to get your message and it’s meaning. Keeping your communication short and simple saves time and prevents frustration.
Congruent – what you think and feel is what you need to show and say. when you tell your child one thing but your face and body language say something else, it sends mixed messages and creates confusion. Children as well as adults usually believe what they see over what is said if the sender is not congruent.
Connected – it is important to be aware of who you are talking to and how that child or adult communicates. you as the sender need to be on the child’s “wave length”, communicating at his speed and using words and language the child or other person is comfortable with. If your child feels you are connected to her and her world, she will be much more apt to pay attention and listen to what you have to say.