Nov 292011
Martini Silouette

Do timing and context enhance your message? (Image by John C Abell via Flickr)

Whenever I’m stuck in a communication that just isn’t working I eventually get back to a favorite expression:  “What you do speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”  I have often found that if I can’t make myself understood, there’s a good chance I’m doing something to contradict myself.  Contradictions create a level of confusion that help the message get lost.

Lots of things can help parents to create a mixed message… they often result from habit or behaviors we’ve just never thought about.  It can be something as simple as smiling when we’re angry: when body language doesn’t match the message listeners are left with a choice about which part of the message is real.

A classic example is the parent who lectures about “the evils of drug use” with a drink in hand. Or someone like me who knows the importance of exercise… but doesn’t always “walk the talk.”

I’m not saying that drinking is wrong…. or that parents who drink should not talk to their kids about responsible substance use.  Or even that people who don’t exercise enough are not allowed to encourage others to be more active.

What I AM saying is that a little more attention to timing, context and example adds up to a powerful, irrefutable message.

There are so many situations in life where this little reminder comes in handy. I remember once hearing a wonderful speaker saying how much he disliked those bumper stickers that say “I’d Rather Be…” (sailing, golfing…   you know the ones…).

I don’t care much about bumper stickers but his reasoning caught my attention.  He said they were dishonest… that if people honestly preferred that activity they would make the necessary sacrifices and changes. It’s something I try to remember when I start to say I am “too busy” for people or activities that matter to me. I think of it when people tell me they “want to write a book but don’t have time.”

And kids have an incredible gift for noticing the mis-matches between what we say and what we do. And, like in any other situation, we can make excuses — or use their insights to become better.  To put our feet where are priorities are.

I am always moved by this video that illustrates the power of our example.

Sep 182011
First day of school. Little girl with a blue c...

Image via Wikipedia

I saw this link from my online friend Shara and enjoyed the article enough to pass along to you.  (Shara is the owner of MommyPerks.)In addition to her usual good thoughts, it reminded me of an activity that families can do together.

What words would you like to “define” in this way?





It’s a simple and enjoyable way to spark conversation on the topic of your choice…. and we can never go wrong with improving communication skills.

Jul 302010

By now, you must have heard about the value of eating dinner as a family. It is a valuable time during which families bond and share. If your dialogue ever gets mundane and you’re looking for a “pick up”, you might choose some of these topics to create new discussions.

1. Pick a current news story that is appropriate for your kids. Ask them what they think about it. What would they do to solve issues or problems, or create better circumstances? Done regularly, you will train your child’s brain on “thinking and problem solving”.

2. Have every member of the family share the best and worst part of their day. Push further to assess for what learning can come of these situations, how to repeat successes or make changes.

3. Ask your kids what they would do with a million dollar cash prize. If they stop at all the materialism, you could ask them how they would use the money for kind acts or philanthropy. Help expand their thinking beyond their own little world.

4. Introduce a word of the day and its meaning. Ask everyone to come up with a (humorous if possible) sentence using the word.

5. Ask them who their least favorite teacher is. Find out why and ask your child how they would do things differently if they were teaching. This will give parents a bird’s eye view into the classroom.

6. Ask your child who they ate lunch with. After you get the names, go deeper and ask your child what they appreciate about the person. Avoid asking what your child would change about another person. The only person your child can change is themselves and the sooner they learn this the easier they can manage their own life and stop fighting useless battles.

7. Ask your child to share interesting points in a book they are reading. Ask them to share why they find it so interesting. Sometimes parents can learn about new interests that impact their child. As new hobbies or interests emerge, parents can find new ways to support their child.

It is important for each person to have uninterrupted time to express themselves. It is also vital to respect each other even if there is disagreement. Parents can reinforce good ideas and challenge perceived weaknesses.

Most importantly, keep it light, have fun, and enjoy your dinner.

Keyuri Joshi (pronounced Kay-yuri Joe-she) is an Atlanta-based Parenting Coach and author of the On The Ball Parent blog. We are lucky to have her!