CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Many parents feel like texting is the only way to get through to their kids. So we asked nationally recognized 'tween' expert, Michelle Icard.
“Surprisingly, when you're in your car, it’s a great time to talk to your kids because you're not making eye contact," Icard says.
No eye contact means less pressure. A good idea, considering research shows that kids have difficulty reading facial expressions. Icard suggests applying the “Botox-brow technique."
“That simply means, pretend you've been pumped full of Botox, and you cannot squinch up your forehead." She added, "When you squinch up your forehead, you may think that you are expressing empathy or interest. Your child reads it as anger every single time."
Click here for some concrete ways to improve communication.
Icard says actually scheduling time to talk to your kids works well, especially for boys.
“By the time the kids are nine, ten or eleven, you don't have to talk about things right when they happen. You might say something like, 'Hey I noticed you were having a tough time with your friend today when he was over maybe after dinner we can sit down. I just want to hear a little bit about how you are feeling about that.' And then walk away, drop it.”
Too often, parents of girls add to the problem by -- without realizing it -- something Icard calls, “interviewing for pain”.
“So when your child comes home from school and you start asking about all the things you're worried about, 'Who did you sit with at lunch today? What were people talking about when you were in the hallway at school? Are those kids still being mean to you?' Those kinds of questions, where you are really trying to dig deep to see if there's an emotional issue, can actually be more burdensome to your child.”
She goes on to say, “I think what girls want to know from their mom is that their moms are not burdened by the emotional happenings of their daughters lives.”
Icard recommends parents get a hobby.
“That's a great way to model for your kids that you're engaged in your life and in the lives of others, and you don't depend on them for your happiness. That's just a big burden for a kid to carry," she stated.
Of course, when in doubt about how to handle a situation with your child, just ask.
“Ask your child how involved you want me to be. 'Do you want me to give you advice? Do you want me just to listen? What do you need from me?'”