This week's blog is the first in another series of interviews. A spoke with her son L and his cousin O, both of whom are 10. It's a natural flowing conversation and both boys pitch in. A develops the questions to get more out of the children and they are very responsive, it's a joy to read. A also has two other sons, N is 3 and E is 3 months.
As ever I'm more than grateful for their contribution.
FIRST WE HEAR FROM A:
- What has been the most valuable lesson you have learned so far with regards to communicating with your children?
I would say … being calm and present when I’m communicating with the kids. I find I can get really distracted, not listen to them properly…um…they end up getting really frustrated because they know that I’m not listening and they’re not getting the answers that they want, and if I can just take a step back and keep present and calm when I’m speaking to them - whatever the subject, I actually get a lot more out of them…um…so yeah, that’s definitely the key to communicating with my kids.
- When has it all gone horribly wrong for you, and what did you do to fix it?
It tends to go horribly wrong when I lose it, to be fair. If I can remain really calm with the kids whatever they’re going through, whether they’re having a paddy, they’re upset, you know - whether it’s something internal, external, or they’re being naughty - again if I lose the plot, if I get cross or angry..um..it does tend to go more horribly wrong then. So definitely coming back to that place of sort of being in the moment and being nice and calm and not being distracted by anything else around me. Again, fixing it when it is all going horribly wrong is just bringing myself out of it and just starting again really.
- What is the personal trait you mostly rely upon in your relationships with your children?
I do rely on a lot of humour with my kids to be fair…um… if I can communicate, for example, asking them to do things - I don’t know whether it’s getting dressed or just picking up after themselves… If I can kind of make it into a game and have a bit of a laugh with them, I am 99.9% sure that they’re going to get that thing done. So it’s kinda coming down to their level, with a good bit of humour and making things a bit of a game - will generally really work and I think that’s…that is one of my good traits actually because I’m good at being a child and being a bit immature!!
- What is your greatest fear for future communications with your children?
I think my greatest fear of communicating with my children is that as they get older - you know, approaching those hormonal teenage years, and reasoning with them becomes more difficult, or if they get more distant….I think, you know, just losing that part of being able to communicate that way that I do now with them….yeah, it does make me feel a bit fearful. And I know that as a parent, you don’t want to be a friend with your child, you do want to be a parent, but also I don’t want to be putting up a wall between us communication-wise as they get older, so that is something that does frighten me for the future years.
- Do you have strategy for this? If not, what would help?
I don’t have a strategy for that, and I don’t know what would help with that, and I think it’s one of those things that you’re just gonna have to see what happens as it goes along.. but obviously if you can give me a few tips…as we approach that time of our lives with L then that’d be great!
- When has it all gone wonderfully right, and why do you think that was?
Yeah, it kind of all goes wonderfully right when we use the humour and we stay in the moment - and that’s happening on a daily basis thankfully, we only kind of lose it momentarily. I think because the kids are so young, I think communication is a lot easier. So, I’m hoping we can keep that going…we’ll just have to see how it goes as the hormones start kicking in with the ten year old.
- What question do you think should be on this list?
That’s a difficult one as well…I’ll have to ponder on that one and let you know when I see you next.
NOW A INTERVIEWS L AND O TOGETHER, :
- What annoys you about how adults speak to you?
Um….When they shout at you like really loud and the way they’re acting when they, like, shout at you…like what they say if they’re angry or something like shout at you when they’re angry.
-Can you describe the way they might act when they shout at you?
The way they like the wag their their finger as a dog wagging their tail or something.
- How do you like a grown-up to be when they speak to you?
Very calm, nice, not to be shouting, I just like them to be relaxed. Calm, nice, errr…sociable and just have a conversation with nothing around distracting us
-So you like an adult to speak to you nice and calmly with nothing around to distract?
- What is good and what is bad about being a child?
Um….The good thing about being a child is that you have a family to love you and look after you.
The bad thing is that you get told off….you get told off a lot more.
-You get told off a lot more because…
Because maybe someone might tell off you for some reason or you did something?
-Do you think that people might have to tell you more because you’re a child and you’re still learning?
Yes! We need to develop a lot more….Yeah!
-Ok that’s fair enough, so what’s good about being a child is that you're looked after and nurtured by your family and what’s bad is being told off because you're still learning?
-Okay I think that’s fair enough….is there anything else that’s good about being a child other than having your family around you?
That you get a lot more attention and you get to do more things than being an adult, your mum and dad pay for a lot.
And like every step when you go up, you’re allowed to do lots of new different things
- Do you find it easy or difficult to talk with grown-ups, and why?
Usually it’s easy to speak to you, but…..-Well it’s not just me, it’s grown-ups in general…but sometimes it’s difficult because sometimes I don’t, sometimes I don’t ,like, feel like getting out where I am? So that’s why I sometimes try and write a little note for you to know how I feel and stuff, but usually I’m okay with just coming up to you and speaking to you.
-So on those occasions where you feel you to want write me a note, why is it difficult to speak to me then? …And you can be completely honest…. (reticence) no…no..(mumbling talking between the boys)
-Is it because of how you are feeling or is it because there’s something I’m doing or not doing?
Usually sometimes it’s how I’m feeling but, sometimes…
-But how would you you be feeling if you feel you have to write a note rather than come and talk?
Like….Like…..I can’t really describe it, I don’t really know.
-Okay. So sometimes you feel you can’t put how you’re feeling into words vocally and so you feel you want to write it down instead? is that right?
-And are there any other situations where you’ve felt you’d prefer to write it down rather than talk to mummy or your teacher or anybody?
I would write a letter…. say I got told off by a teacher, and it’s something that’s quite bad and you want to describe it to your mum then I’ll write it in a letter …that I got told off, got badly told off……I’ll just describe it in a letter.
-Okay, so you'd prefer to write a letter to your mum if you’ve done something really naughty at school rather than come home and tell her?
But that’s never happened.
-(laughing) Okay so that’s never happened….
- Is it easy or difficult for you to speak with other children?
To me it’s sometimes hard because at our school, I try to speak to my friends and they’re all playing another a game…I can’t remember, but, like, they just ignore me when I just say “‘Hi’ can I play with you?” and they just ignore me, so it’s quite hard to try and speak to other people if I’m lonely or something.
-Okay, I understand, and is there any other reason why you might find it difficult or easy to speak with other children?
The only way it’s easy is if it’s a friend or somebody that comes over to me, like one of my friends and we just start chatting….that’s the easiest ways.
-How about in this situation when you have your cousin O with you, do you find it difficult or easy to speak here and now?
Easy. Because usually, because usually, …….if I’m at his house then he’s usually around….-and do you think that..we’ve known O forever haven’t we? Well basically yes. -So we know O very well? Yeah.
-So do you think it’s easier or harder to speak to school friends you know or school friends that you maybe don’t know so well or does it depend on the person?
It would depend on their personality really ….sometimes it’s hard to speak to my actual friends…because they’re going and playing a different game with a a few other people. I try to speak them to say, ‘Hi, Hi buddy can I play?’ and then they’re just ignoring me playing a game.
-Does that happen very often?
No….No…because then I have at least one of my year four friends to play with…..sometimes…..well….lots of times….
- Do you think adults understand you? Why / why not?
-Why do you think that?
Because they like to help their child ?
-So you’re talking about parents specifically?
-And when you say help, what would you …
Well, if you’re not in trouble or anything and you're trying to talk like something’s on your mind, well they speak to you nice and calmly … and just see what’s up and then they try and fix it.
Sometimes they don’t get….well….so…they think you’re, like, older than you actually are.
Sometimes when they’re speaking to, like when they don’t … when they don’t understand you when .. like..they’re speaking on the phone, or like on their phone doing something.
-So you think they don’t understand you when they’re distracted by…
Yeah when they’re on the phone or the telly or whatever else could happen…
-So if for example someone was on their phone or…
Like technology…say their telly, their computer…
-Or maybe working? Could they be working?
Maybe they could be watching like a movie or something, maybe working….maybe, I don’t know, watching exercise videos… I don’t know, anything like that.
-So you find that they don’t understand you if they are distracted by something else.
-Okay, very good.
- What lesson would you like grown-ups to learn about how to talk to children?
It would probably be like something that I’ve done in the past, that’s been successful - or I would like to do something that I’m good at to impress other people.
-(re-iterating misunderstood question) So what lesson would you like grown-ups to learn about how to talk to children?
I’m not really sure….sometimes, like I said before, to think of how old we actually are and how mature we are.
Not treating you too old or too young, but just speaking to you appropriately, like age appropriately.
Say like… what’s good for a ten year old, not like you’re a three year old or something.
- What question do you think should be on this list? How would you answer it?
I’m not really sure….I don’t really know.