If your children have difficulty approaching you with their feelings, it's time to change your behavior, Rabbi Shmuley says. While children should always listen to their parents, Rabbi Shmuley says it's important for parents to listen to their children's thoughts, ideas and feedback as well. "Getting that information is paramount to kids and parents having a warm, open and communicative relationship," he says. Rabbi Shmuley talks about how to keep the lines of communication open with your child:
- Don't be overly critical. If you child feels like she can never do anything right, she'll eventually stop trying to do the right thing, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Don't jump to conclusions. Remember that you're not a mind reader, so give your child a chance to explain a situation if he makes a mistake, he says.
- Don't assume to understand what it's like to be a child in today's world. The world is a different place than the one you grew up in, so keep an open mind and listen to your child, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Make time to listen. When your child comes to you with a problem, give her your undivided attention so she knows she truly matters, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Don't fight with your spouse. When children see their parents constantly bickering, they're reluctant to open up because they're afraid of making your problems worse, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Treat others with kindness. If you tell your child to be polite, but you're rude and abusive to others, you're sending confusing, mixed messages. Practice what you preach, Rabbi Shmuley says.
- Don't yell at your child. If you scream at your child every time he comes to you with a problem, he'll eventually stop looking to you for direction, Rabbi Shmuley says. "They'll lie to you, hold it inside or turn to their friends for guidance when they should be going to you."
"There are two participants in a parent-child relationship. And although it is not a relationship of equals, and although the parent must always be the authority figure, it doesn't mean the child doesn't have a say. All too often, we don't listen to our children's feedback on our parenting skills and style. But without that feedback, our children will internalize anger and will turn to their friends, rather than us, as their confidantes."