Hitting the right notes: How parents can become better communicators with their children

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – On the scale of life challenges, being a parent ranks right up there. 

Then, when there are multiple children in a family, it can feel downright impossible to handle. 

So, that’s why I went looking for some words of reassurance from an expert. 

Parenting is a constantly evolving game and while you may love them, sometimes finding the right balance with your child can be a challenge. 

Children are like snowflakes in that no two are alike. 

“Each kid is different, each one has their own temperament, their own personality, and their own style,” explained AHN Child Psychologist Dr. Gary Swanson. 

He said some kids will respond readily to direction and correction, while others may see it as something you never intended. 

“Some kids will let stuff roll off their back and other kids…it gnaws at them or bothers them, and that’s important to recognize that,” Dr. Swanson said. 

They may isolate to get past the moment and Dr. Swanson said that’s not necessarily a bad thing but there is a limit. 

“I think it’s good to go back to a child and somewhat later times you say, ‘Hey, tell me how you’re feeling how did that go? Was anything about that bothering you?'” 

However, he said to keep in mind that the siblings are watching. 

“The other children need parental attention too and you need to be mindful of the parents giving them that attention,” he said. 

Then, just when you figure out how each child needs to be handled, they’ll grow into another phase. 

“Parents are constantly needing to adapt their parenting style to the needs of their kids developmentally,” Dr. Swanson said. 

As for spouses, teamwork always makes the dream work. 

He said in a two-parent household, each parent should have their own style and one can be a little better at dealing with one child and there is nothing wrong with that. 

Dr. Swanson said, neglect aside, most parents – while not perfect – are good enough. That alone makes a positive difference in a child’s life. 

There are, of course, the challenging teenage years, but he said that’s why practicing good communication with your child early is important because then, even in those challenging years, they always feel like they can talk to you. 

Finally, don’t dismiss their feelings – listen with empathy, not judgment.