Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Episode #89: Expert Tips for Better Parent-Child Communication

Discover the keys to unlocking stronger parent-child bonds with seasoned coach Kathy Bowers on this episode of the Water Prairie Chronicles. Join us as Kathy shares over 40 years of expertise, offering practical strategies to enhance communication an
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Your Words Matter – Communication Help for Parents

Show Notes:

Discover the keys to unlocking stronger parent-child bonds with seasoned coach Kathy Bowers on this episode of the Water Prairie Chronicles. Join us as Kathy shares over 40 years of expertise, offering practical strategies to enhance communication and relationships with your children. Don’t miss out—tune in to learn how to transform your family dynamics today!

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Music Used:

“LazyDay” by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.



Meet Kathy Bowers, a parenting, teen, and life coach with over 40 years of hands-on experience working directly with parents and their children. With a passion for supporting families through every stage of parenting, Kathy specializes in addressing a wide range of parenting and behavior issues.

As the founder of Life Change Coaching, Kathy offers her expertise online, providing invaluable guidance to parents seeking to enhance their communication skills and strengthen their relationships with their children. Through personalized coaching packages, Kathy empowers parents to discover effective strategies for connecting with all of their children, fostering understanding and harmony within the family dynamic.

Additionally, Kathy extends her coaching services to individuals who are driven to achieve specific goals in their lives. Whether it’s navigating the challenges of parenthood or pursuing personal aspirations, Kathy offers a supportive and insightful approach to help clients overcome obstacles and reach their full potential.

Ready to begin your journey towards positive change? Book your free 30-minute exploratory call with Kathy through her website and take the first step towards building healthier, more fulfilling relationships with your children and yourself.

Episode #89: Expert Tips for Better Parent-Child Communication

Your Words Matter – Communication Help for Parents

(Recorded February 19, 2024)
A graphic showing the guest, Kathy Bowers, and the title of the episode, "Communicate With Your Kids." Kathy has blond wavy hair and is wearing a white blouse with colored buttons along the edge of the collar. She is holding her glasses in her right hand as she looks at the camera. The graphic encourages parents to work on communication with their children.

Full Transcript of Interview:

Kathy: I believe that true communication means being 100 percent available for your child and to really listen to them and see them as individuals.

Tonya: Welcome to the Water Prairie Chronicles, a podcast created for special needs parents and those who want to support them. I’m your host, Tonya Wollum, and I’m glad you’re here.

In this episode, I’m chatting with Kathy Bowers about how to unlock a stronger bond with your child. Kathy is the founder of Life Change Coaching, where she provides guidance to parents seeking to enhance their communication skills and strengthen their relationships with their children. Today, she’ll be sharing practical strategies to help communication and relationships with your children.

If you have a little one who doesn’t listen or a moody teen who ignores you, Kathy has some tips to share that you may find enlightening. This episode is sponsored by the Water Prairie Etsy shop where you can find Tales and a Tote story kits for young children and printable storytelling journals and activity books to help encourage older children to enjoy writing their own stories.

Check out the shop at and be sure to sign up for the Water Prairie newsletter for special Etsy promo codes. Now, let’s get back to the episode. Kathy, I appreciate you being with us today.

Thank you, Tonya. It’s a great pleasure to be here.

Kathy is a parenting, teen, and life coach, and I say it that way because it’s my understanding, she’s going to tell us more, but it’s my understanding that she works with both parents and teens separately and together, but then also does life coaching.

Am I completely off on that or do I have this correct?

Um, it, a little bit.

A little bit? Okay.

Um, yeah.

Clear, clear it up for me.

I, I do mentoring with the teens and the parents together online because obviously teens want to have their say and if there’s difficulties and the parents will obviously be there as well.

So we do like in the room scenario where I’m just making it sort of flow. And giving everyone the opportunity to listen to one another and to, um, express what they, they’re having, um, trouble with, you know, with between parent and teen and teen to parent. So that’s what I do. And then I work individually on online with parents, but not together parents, you know, individual parents because obviously.

Although you’re a parent, you’re two different human beings and you have your different viewpoints and things. And the last thing I want is a clash going on. So it’s up to the parents to decide if they want to split this. I offer six sessions. So it’s whether they want to split the six sessions into three or take six, six each is up to them really.

And, um, then with individuals, obviously I work with the individual online again, and that’s on around specific goals they have, they wish to achieve, whether it’s a personal development goal. Or something to do with maybe setting up a business or just, just anything really that comes into their head that they want to achieve.

So one of the things that stood out for me when you, when you first reached out was, um, when I checked out your website, you had a summary on there that said that you work with parents who are having communication and parenting difficulties with their children. And I was like, wow. And it sounds like from what you’re saying, how you’re, you’re working with them together.

And it’s a topic that we haven’t brought to the podcast before. And I think it really is important that we do look at communication. A lot of times we lean toward talking about, um, parents trying to communicate with the school, things like that. Um, and we may even talk about behavior sometimes with our children, but we haven’t broken it down to the communication itself.

And I think this is really important for us to, to dig into a little bit. And I’m, I’m really looking forward to hearing some of the information that you’re going to share with us. And, um, those that are listening, I’d love to hear your feedback as you start learning from this episode, even, um, let us know if you try out some of the things that we’re going to talk, talk about, and if you see any changes.

So when I, um, started thinking about communication, I, um, I was trying to think, you know, what, what have I heard to kind of get us started? And I came across the quote by Emma Thompson, those that may not be familiar with it. She wrote Sense and Sensibility, um, in 1995, I think is when that came out. And the quote that I saw from her was any problem, big or small within a family, always seems to start with bad communication.

Someone isn’t listening. And what I liked on that was how many times do we, especially as parents, you know, we have things we have to say. And, um, and Junior is watching TV or something, and he hears nothing that we say. And we say it three or four times, so we’re getting more heated, and they never heard a word of what we said.

So I thought maybe we’d launch with a quote to, to let us see that it isn’t just us, that sometimes there are others who recognize that communication can be a pretty big thing.

Well, I mean, communication is for everybody, adults included. You know, how we talk to one another. It’s not just children, but obviously when we’re a parent, we have to be specifically aware of how we communicate with our children.

90 percent of communication is our physical, you know, it’s not vocal, sorry, vocal, it’s our physical. well being and how we respond like that. It’s our features on our face. It’s whether we give eye contact or we don’t. And then it’s our voice, but it’s not just our words. It’s our tone of voice as well. So it’s all taken in.

So it’s a lot to actually really take in and realize. And as adults, I don’t think we realize how we respond to our children when things are annoying. You know, we don’t even have to open our mouths, the children will see, Oh, here they come.

Yeah. When I think too, you know, we’re talking about the parent child relationship in that one, but, um, but even mom and dad, how do we talk to each other?

And our children are absorbing all of that and watching, they’re, they’re learning their own communication skills as they observe all of this.

We’re meant to be offering guidance and it has to be positive guidance we’re giving them. And we do forget because children don’t stand up to our height, you know, we sometimes don’t even know they’re in the room sometimes, you know, and they’re absorbing it.

I mean, their brain, you know, they’re like a sponge. They want to get in. And it’s only when you suddenly see your children. mimicking you or making a, an expression or saying a word that you would say, you think, hold on a minute, this little person’s really picked it up. And it’s a famous one. So the swear words, you know, we don’t, this two year old or three year old comes out with a swear.

Oh, they’ve got it from school. Well, hold on. They don’t Yeah.

Right. Well, and, and how many times does the parent say, where did you learn that? And because you don’t necessarily see it in yourself, it’s, um, yeah, that’s, I’ve seen, I’ve seen that a lot of times as I, as I’ve just talked, talked with people in the community and the look of the parent’s face, whenever it happens, it’s,

it’s like, I’m embarrassed.

Well, a lot of times too, you know, we, we’re so careful of protecting our children with the media and, and what they’re exposed to, but we may forget that they’re exposed to us as well. And what, what are we showing to them? You’re right. With my children, I knew a lot of times when they were young, I was working with different groups of adults and they would be with me at times.

And so I needed to do the job that I was doing and finish the conversation with the parent or with someone else. And, um, And with my kids, you know, what they want, it’s now it’s, you know, they, they wanted to jump in. So we started what, what I always called the, the interrupt rule and they had to put their hand on my arm or my leg just to, to, to let me know they were there.

And then they knew in turn that I would stop when there was a moment to see what they wanted. So they didn’t have to wait for the whole adult conversation to end before I could pay attention to them. But that was something that I always required of them. But did I always do that for them if they were in the middle of something to give them that warning?

No, I didn’t. A lot of times I would expect them to jump right as soon as I’d say something. So we don’t always have that balance.

Yeah, this is what’s quite common with parents when, and I did quite a few sort of, uh, tests with my parents. I sort of said, it was quite funny, we had this um, day when they came in, when I was in the nursery, and I said, right, well, parents come in, and they went, okay.

So I said, now I’m going to sit you down at different tables. I think there’s four to each table. And I said, I’m going to give you some artwork, and I’m going to expect you to do it. Okay. So, alright, that’s fine. So, um, what they weren’t expecting, though, was, what I did was, I gave instructions to some of them, then I gave part instructions to others, like, by whispering, telling them what to do, and then to others, I didn’t give any instructions.

So, yeah. At least. bits of newspaper and things on the table. They didn’t have all the equipment like they might need. It’s, um, they were meant to be making a tree out of a newspaper. And so they needed the tree, the scissors and some sellotape or something on some of the tables. I didn’t give them the scissors or I didn’t put the tape out.

So they didn’t know. So it was quite funny. So anyway, I said, right. You’re going to be timed for this now get on and do it and then what I did as well Was I would come up to a parent and wouldn’t say anything and I just get hold of them and move them to another table or move them and sit them out and we did this and it was quite funny because they were very sort of disorientated.

They didn’t know what was going on and they hadn’t got a clue. Some of them were trying to do the tree quite well and then others were looking at the table of this to say what they doing trying to copy. Well then when we stopped it I said right now tell me how you felt and the hands were going up they said Well, I was completely lost.

I didn’t know what, what I was meant to be doing because you didn’t tell any of us on the table what we were meant to be, you know, building. And then someone else said, well, we didn’t have the equipment to do. You told us to do this, but we didn’t have the cellar table, the scissors. And there’s someone else said, well.

I got very upset because you took me away and I thought, what have I done? I’ve been, have I, she actually said, have I been naughty? And I said, these are things that you do to your children every day. You don’t explain or you jump in and you don’t give them time. You know, you, and one of the things you do, which is so common, I mean, I did it as well with my children.

You give an instruction, but you don’t give one instruction in the sentence. You give them four or five, you know, I want you to get your shoes on, put your coat there, do this. And then You don’t understand why your child is just not done it and they’re sitting there. You think they’re being, you know, argumentative or rude to you or defiant to you, but what they’re doing is you’ve told them something and they’re just trying to work out in their brain, right?

What’s, what do I need to do first? But then you’re shouting at them because they haven’t done it immediately. You know, you’re expecting it to be that instant done. And I like with parents, I’ve said to you. If I ask you to do something, we’re discussing something and I was to say to you, right, I want you to do this and this and then I shout, well, why haven’t you done it yet?

You know, how do you feel? And they say, well, I’d get angry because I can’t do, I couldn’t do it at that time. You know, who the hell do you think you are telling me to do it immediately? And I said, well, nothing is done immediately. You have to take it and absorb. You have to process it. On your instructions, you know, if it’s not clear in the first place, you’re lost.

Well, then you also have our children who can’t retain that many things at one time. And they, they know there were shoes somewhere in that, in that sentence, but that’s about it.

So you have to keep it simple. You know, a simple instruction is short and simple. Like go, go and get your shoes, go and get your coat.

You know, you’re telling them, it’s no good saying. Where are your shoes? And that’s it. They will think, well, where are my shoes? That’s not what you’re asking them. You might be asking them to go and put your shoes on, but you have to tell them what you want. It’s like, if you’re at work and your boss tells you to do something, they have to give you an instruction of what you need to do for your job to, you know, to do it.

You know, it, it’s one of those things that we, as you’re saying, if you put it into, Your own life, you understand it’s, you know, maybe, maybe even we need more time because we’re older now.

I’m not sure there are a lot of things inside our head because we’re thinking about where are the keys, which is why half the time we’re upset that they don’t have their shoes on yet, because we just found the keys now we’re ready to go and

They’ve, and they’ve lost the shoes. One shoe is under the bed.

When in the process, we probably ask them to help us find the keys because we assume that they must have moved them or something. So that kind of answers one of the questions I was going to ask you. What are some of the challenges that parents face when we’re trying to communicate with our kids? Um, that I think that’s, that’s probably, especially as young as some of our parents have toddlers, even those are very real things.

We’re trying to find where the shoe is. Yes. One’s upstairs, one’s downstairs. But what are some of the other challenges that parents might face when they’re talking to their kids? Maybe, maybe thinking about our older kids, you work with teens a lot.

It’s, it’s how, how you speak to your children and your, as I said, your body language and your tone.

And especially with teens, we’re inclined to come over as nagging them, you know, uh, or challenging them or putting your, it’s always, you Why haven’t you done this? Or where can you do it? Rather than actually asking, you know, can you come? I need some help here. Can you help me with something, you know, sort of, and you, and it’s a two way conversation, isn’t it?

That’s what you’re meant to be having, a two way conversation calmly and calmly. If you’re challenging it and your, uh, your voice sounds aggressive or it sounds sort of derogatory or, you know, speaking down to them, you’re going to get their back up. So you have to really, it’s like putting the thought that they have thought it rather than you’re telling them, but you have to be very sort of, you know, cunning in a way, I suppose, to sort of put the suggestion there, but then let them think that they’re thought of it and they’re doing it.

So it’s a question of, you know, your phrasing and your terminology is very important when you’re, when you’re communicating with teens.

As you’re, as you’re talking about that, I’m thinking of when my, my son, more than my daughter, um, he was one that would, well, he has ADHD. He has reasons that sometimes the, the teachers would misunderstand what he was doing.

And I would always challenge the teacher, instead of assuming what you think is happening, ask the question, what, what were you thinking? But not in the tone of voice of what were you thinking? But what, what was the reason behind what you just did? And, and I would challenge them because you’d be surprised what was really happening.

A lot of times it was totally opposite of what you assumed it was. And it really wasn’t a bad behavior that you were expecting it to be. It was actually a very thoughtful gesture. That went awry somewhere in the process of following through with it.

Yes. Yeah.

But, um, but that, I, and I think as parents sometimes we’ll do the same thing.

We, we respond quickly, assuming something that really isn’t there. And if we can hear what our kids are saying.

And that’s why you have to ask them, you ask them, you know, have they understood? Is there anything that they’re struggling with? Is there anything that you can help them do? make it easier for them to do whatever you’ve asked them to do.

So it’s this, it’s this gentle, supportive communication that you’re letting them know you’ve got their back. You’ve got their best interests at heart, you know, and, and you say to them, you know, I really care. I love you to bits and I want the best for you. So let me help you. But sometimes We get it wrong.

And that’s when we need to say, look, I’ve really messed up here. I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have speaking, spoken to you like that. You know, that was totally out unnecessary and you didn’t deserve that. You know, even though I’m stressed and tired, that still doesn’t excuse the fact that you got the brunt of it, but you know, I’m sorry, but

Well, what, what better lesson can we show our children whenever we say that to them?

Because we, we all have moments of passion that are not. in tune with what it should be. And I mean, our kids have it to us, especially as they’re getting older and have those hormonal changes where they may snap back at us.

But also they might have a bad day at school. They might have a, a clash with a friend.

They might be thinking like, cause they’re, you know, so many different things going on. They might be, um, thinking about a girl or a boy or anxious about that. I mean, what surprises me nowadays, which When I was a teenager, I didn’t think like this at all. I’m thinking it must be, I don’t know whether it’s um, media, social media has anything to do with it, but the kids don’t just worry about maybe what’s going on for them at school or at home or if they get a, getting a girlfriend or a boyfriend.

They’re now worrying at a very tender age about will I, how will I earn enough money to live, to buy clothes, to buy a car. Will I be able to learn to drive a car? How will I, um, be able to earn enough to get married, if that’s what I want, and have a family, and raise a family, and they’ve got all these thoughts, and you’re thinking, God, you’re just teens, you haven’t even got any of that yet.

Why are you worrying about it? But they are. They really are worrying about all this stuff and you think you’re putting more stress on your shoulders of something that’s not happening maybe 10 years from, from now.

Yeah. That’s, that’s, that’s interesting that, that you are starting to see that more.

But I think also because they’re living in families who are struggling, maybe that’s what it is.

Mom and dad are struggling with finances to put, keep a roof over their head. We’ve got this thing with all the heating bills, haven’t we now? Well, you know the cost of living, you know, all that, putting food on your table. You hear it now. And the pet, the kids that are aware of it, mom and dad are thinking, well, if I put the heating money, you know, on the meter in the, for the heating, I might not have enough food.

And they see one of the parents not eating as much food and giving it to the kids. So it’s all this, it’s, it’s, it’s a horrible way, but they, they’re watching, like I was telling you, you know, and they’re, seeing this all and they’re seeing the parents struggle. And maybe that goes on. If they’re doing it, this is my mum and dad and they should know how to handle money and they’re older than me.

And they have, you know, they’ve been working for years and doing this. So if they’re struggling, what hope is there for me?

I want to, I want to get back a little bit to thinking of our, our audience where many of them have young children with disabilities and special needs, but they also have other children who don’t have disabilities or special needs. So, so everything we’re talking about is going to address someone within their family at some point along the line there.

Yeah, it’s vital. I mean, each, the parents are all individuals. Their children are individuals, you know, so they’re not. None of them are the same as the other one.

So you have to really get to know your children, whether they’ve got a disability or not. If they have a disability, then yes, you have to understand what that disability is and the impact it has on how they communicate, how they act. receive information and how they can respond to information. And if they’ve got a physical disability, how does that affect them?

And you know, movement or, or whatever, and pain and, and their responses, are they in pain? Do they get angry? Do they get frustration if they can’t vocalize? Because that’s quite common. Um, if they’ve got a hearing problem and you don’t necessarily know your child is deaf, or I’ve got something wrong that needs, you know, the grommets.

And, um, they, if they can’t hear what you’re saying, they’re getting frustrated. and they’re kicking out, you think, Oh, what’s going on here? But you have to look deeper. But if you know your child, you know, if you really observe and look and monitor, you have to look for what they’re not saying as well as verbally, how they’re communicating.

And so every child is different. And you’ve got to obviously consider that not only their personalities, but their age and their ability. So you don’t have a full grown conversation. You can have a good conversation with a teenager, but you can’t do that with a two year old or a three year old. They’re going, what?

Because they’re short, they’ve got, attention span is so like, a couple of minutes and that’s it. They’re going, you know, it’s like, what?


So you’re, you’re wasting your time and you’re just getting worn out. So you have to really, really, really, Make sure that you tone your conversations, your communication, always be present when you’re talking to them, always show that you’re listening.

This is what we talk about active listening, which is really difficult to do, but it’s emptying your head of anything else, any of that clutter talking, because when, for example, if I’m talking to you, you’ll be, you might be in your head thinking, well, I’m going to, I’m thinking about this next answer. I’m going to ask Kathy.

And so you’re not actually taking a hundred percent of what I’m saying. And we do this all the time. And the, and when I was learning to do my coaching, the coach said, no, you’re not listening a hundred percent, Kathy. I said, what? He said, you have to empty that all out. And you have to actually hear 100 percent what that person’s saying, and don’t come in to finish their sentence, or don’t come in because and give them a bit of space, because they might not have finished what you think they’ve finished, you know.

Sorry. Might not have finished what you thought they’d said and, um, therefore, you’re cutting off something which could have been continued. So it’s vital to do that and, you know, to really be aware, but also to not involve your child. Don’t treat your child like a mini adult. Don’t treat them like your friend.

I’ve had so many parents say, but I don’t want to do this with them. I don’t want to tell them off because I want them to love me. I want them to like me or I see them as my friend. Yeah. So, you know, it’s, it’s vital that you Really make sure that you don’t keep any adult conversation. You keep it away from your children, especially if you’re going through, um, well, anything could be arguments, uh, financial problems, breakup, relationship breakups.

You don’t want them to be piggy in the middle. You don’t want them to hear things because it’s frightening and you don’t want them to feel that they have to choose between mum or dad or, you know, two mums or two dads because They’re your kids. They’re not into all this stuff. They just love you, both of you, and that’s all they want.

But it’s so easy for us adults. We forget we might be on the phone to someone, talking and slagging off the other person, and our child’s right there hearing everything we’re saying. And that’s, you know, so we have to really think about We don’t want negative communication in any form of way. We have to be positive a hundred percent and same with our guidance, how we offer them, it has to be a hundred percent.

You mentioned active listening, the, um, and earlier you were talking about how we speak. We communicate with more than just our words, with our facial expressions, with our body expressions and all. And I’m, I’m just as guilty as the next person where if I’m in the middle of something and someone from the family walks in while I’m working on it, I may not hear everything that they’re saying.

I try to catch on to as much as I can, but my brain is, even if I turn my back on what I’m working on, my brain is still there and it’s hard to pull the plug sometimes, but with active listening, my I’ve always heard it to be, you know, repeating back some of the things to show that you are engaged with it.

Are there ways that our body language also is active listening to, are there?

Well, yes, because it’s how we’re open. I mean, it’s like if we’re sitting there and we’re not, and we’re all tight or we’re not looking, you know, especially your eye contact, you have to give up. If you’re giving eye contact, they’re showing you, you’re seeing that person, you’re saying, I’m seeing you, I’m listening.

And then you say to them, Uh, either repeat back or you can say, am I right in understanding that you have, you’ve said this? Have I heard this correctly? So you ask them, because it’s always good to check in, because You might have interpreted it wrongly and that’s how arguments and fights and sulks start because Someone said something and then you’ve interpreted it completely different So if you check in with them rather than they get like, oh, they’ve said that check in first because then they’ll say no It didn’t mean that this is what I meant because again It’s your frame of mind how you’re feeling at that particular time of the day You might be over sensitive and you just take something you think that’s a criticism and that person might not be You wanting to criticize you.

I might best be giving you a suggestion or something, but in that form of the way, you’ve just taken it that particular time as a criticism.

So we spoke about how we don’t want our children to, to hear those adult conversations because they’re not, they’re not part of that. They’re not ready for those where they really should not be part of that, that conversation.

But what, what about when we’re communicating with our children and, and. In all honesty, I think every parent at some point has had a harsher word. They may not yell, but they may have a sterner word or something that they meant to be. It may not have, the situation may not have warranted that reaction that they had.

And I say all the time that, that words carry a lot of weight. So as we’re speaking to our children and speaking with our children, how can we. Help our children’s self esteem and their wellbeing be more positive. I mean, yes, we can always say, say positive, good things, but that’s not what a parent’s role is.

Sometimes we do have to be negative in helping to correct. So how can we have a better balance?

Well, what you should do is every day, see something that the child has done. It can be really small and you put, you put that as. I’ve seen you’ve really been helpful. You know, I didn’t need to call you down two or three times to get out of bed to come for breakfast.

You, you did that yourself or you, you remembered to go and clean your teeth, you know, things like that. Or you’ve been, you’re, you’ve been on time so that you’re not going to miss your school bus, you know, you’re leaving the house. So really appreciate and say that. And then also things like, I really You really helped me carrying out that shopping out of the car because there was a lot of shopping.

And I You just saw that I needed that help, or you held the door open for me. And it’s so nice because everyone, adults as well, if someone gives you, like you’re saying, positive praise, thank you, and using the manners and everything, you want to respond. It may, it lifts you up, it brightens you up, it does your self esteem.

But if you’ve got someone constantly pulling you down, picking, picking you to bits all the time, or Not saying anything. That’s just as bad. You get some families where The parents do not say anything. They don’t reward them. They just it’s a blank, you know, and that could be to do with mental health. It could be lots of different things, you know, but that pulls your self esteem down.

You don’t have to. Have that, you know, you don’t build up your self esteem when someone’s doing that because you’re not being seen as a complete person. You’re not being seen holistically, you know, and it’s so important for parents to really see their children. In all areas, you don’t see just the bad behavior because if you do, you can think, well, okay, this bad behavior is here, but why is that happening?

Go back and see what’s going on. You know, if they’re little, they’re not, might not be able to vocalize how they’re feeling because I’m got the words. So they, they’ll kick off, you know, and you get lots of little ones who want their parents to play and they come with a toy and they’re playing and This is sort of a B for me.

Lots, lots of parents seem to think because they’re children, little ones can play quite contentedly with their toys. They don’t think they need to get on their hands and knees and play with their children. They think, leave it to them, but what you’re helping them, you’re helping them with their language, you know, conversing, their understanding, you’re talking about colors, shape, you know, so many different ways, and you’re having fun with them, you’re making them laugh, and making them see that you really are interested in what they’re doing, and if you’ve got a little baby, You know, he wants to come up and he’s got a toy and wants you to play and you’re on the phone like this and you’re paying no attention, you go, hmm, fine, and you don’t give any, and the baby might come along and whack you.

I’ve seen this with mums I’ve been with, you know, whack you with a toy, not hard, but enough. And the parent goes, well, why have you done that? And I said, Well, you’ve been on your phone, your child’s been trying to get you to engage with this toy, and it wasn’t a hard whack, but they’re just trying to get your attention to say it.

But you’ve got some children If you do not respond, they withdraw into themselves, and then the parents say, Oh, so and so is a very good boy, he never asks for anything. No, because he’s learnt to self soothe and do anything. So, you have to be mindful if that child is so quiet. Why are they like that? And then you get the other ones who’ve learned the only way they get your attention is if they whack you with something or hit their sibling.

And in a way you’re rewarding their bad behavior by your responding, you know, To it and they’re thinking, well, I’m getting something from you might not be the right thing, but I’m getting something from you. And then you have these households where everyone’s screaming at each other. You know, there are different levels of the thing.

Come down here. It’s just easier just to go up and say, can you come and help me? You know, And it starts from us adults doing it, but we’re the ones that are screaming most of the time.

So before we get to the end here, cause I’m looking at our time, we’ve talked about some of this, but are there any other practical tips or exercises that parents can incorporate?

You’ve given us a lot as we’ve gone through here, but is there anything else that you can think of that we didn’t talk about?

The first thing that parents need to look at is what’s happening for them first. What is getting in the way that they aren’t necessarily being able to give a hundred percent attention to their children and be available.

And what’s really common is most of us work now, whether we work at home, we work part time, full time, or we go into the office or do another job. If. We’re not happy in our job, which most of us, I mean, let’s face it. Most of us go to work because we need to pay for a mortgage, pay all the bills and put food on the table.

And if we’re lucky, have a car and go on a holiday, you know, and treat, but not many of us say I’ve got a great job. I love my job, but we’ve got bosses that bully us. We’ve got bosses that see you, see you working and doing well, so they’ll give you more stuff, more work, and you’ll get stressed. Now, stress is a good thing if you’re doing a small amount, you know, you’ve got a project.

And you think this is going to be a four or five week stress, but you’re there because you’ve got the energy and your stress is driving you to do this and you’re coming up with these ideas. That’s fine. But when you get the other form of stress, it just builds up on you and you’re, overloaded, you’re exhausted, you can’t sleep, you can’t do your job work, you’re constantly, constantly, your head’s getting clouded up with all this stuff.

And you come home, and you’re taking your work home, because you think if I don’t do this, I might get the sack or whatever. And then you’re taking it in the evening, which impacts on how you see your kids and how you engage with your kids, because your moods are all over the place. And then on the weekend, you probably find you’re doing it.

And you’ve got to say to your boss, Enough’s enough. You know, be polite. Just say, The amount of work you’re giving me now I can manage, I can complete. Perfect. But if you give me something else, it’s too much and it will affect the work that I’m doing well. So let me do this piece of work first. And if they’re not willing to listen, then you’ll have to either go to a union or go to the next person above.

This is my contract. If your contract says you work Monday to Friday and you don’t work nights and you don’t work weekends or, you know, evenings, then you have to stick by it because the most important thing is your mental health, your physical health, which will impact your mental health. on your whole relationship with your partner and your children.

So you have to take care of that first because family life is the most important thing. Your kids are your number one priority. You have to make sure that they are always first. And don’t beat yourself up about your parenting. Learn from your mistakes. Try not to repeat them again. If you feel you need help, you know, sorting out your own problems.

Go to your GP if it’s mental health or wherever it is, you know, first to get, get some help and support. There’s so many agencies out there that will help you. Make sure that you’re available for your children. You’re consistent, a hundred percent consistent with what you do and you have your boundaries and your routines in place and just enjoy being parents and, you know, Know your kids are the most wonderful, best ever thing you could ever have in your life.

I agree. That’s the one we were talking earlier. That was, that was what I kept thinking of when you’re talking about the little one hitting mom with the toy to get the attention. It’s like, get on the floor and play. If you can’t get on the floor, bring them up to the sofa with you or something. Well, this, this season, we’re, this is season three now.

I have added something in that we’re going to do, um, and I’m not sure what I’m going to call this, if it’s going to be advice tags or what. But, um, But I have three statements that I’m going to read and have you repeat what I say and add an ending to it. The first one is short and easy. So it’s, I believe that true communication means, and then you’ll repeat that and finish the sentence with that. Okay?

I believe that true communication means being a hundred percent available for your child. And to really listen to them and see them as individuals.

Ooh, I like that. Okay. The second one, a memorable conversation I’ve had with my child. Taught me

A memorable conversation I’ve had with my child or my children.

Taught me that I have to be more patient, and more resilient to my own, what, what’s going on for myself personally, that I mustn’t have that impact on them. And that was when I was going through a divorce and it was really hard. It was hard for them and it was hard for me.

Our children teach us so much, don’t, don’t, don’t they, they, they, they’re good reflections for us at times.

All right. So this last one is a long one. So I sent you that one in, in one of the emails, because I knew it was gonna be hard to remember it all. So the most effective way I found to connect with my child through communication is

The most effective way I found to communicate with my child is through play to start off with when they were little, and then continuing that with board games and encouraging their, hobbies and their enthusiasm and going on.

So when they’re teenagers, doing something with them, really being there to support whatever they want to try. They might try something for a little while and then they think, I don’t want to do that anymore. Well, fine. You’ve tried it. Try something else.

Kathy, what is the best way for my listeners to get in touch with you if they want to find out more about what you do or if they wanted to work with you?

Um, on my website, my website’s called And on there I, you can, there’s a link that you can click, which I offer a free 30 minute exploratory session on Zoom for you just to tell me what’s going on for you. What’s the main issue that you’re struggling with and you need help with and I’ll tell you about me and what I do in the packages I offer And see if coaching’s right for you.

Sometimes it’s not right for everybody, but most of the time it is and I’m available just to help help and talk out, you know and give you some suggestions

Are you active on any social media platforms?

I’m on Facebook and LinkedIn and Instagram.

Okay, I can link all of her contact and the show notes. So if you’re listening, check the, you’ll have to go to the website that goes with the, the audio because lately they haven’t been posting the notes for me, but it will link the website there.

And if you’re on YouTube, it’ll be in the description of the video.

Yes. Okay.

So, well, Kathy, thank you for the wealth of information that you’ve shared with us. This is, this has been fun. I’ve enjoyed it. I hope that I was listening actively for you and the pressure was on.

I really appreciate it. And I hope it’s been useful to your listeners as well. I hope I’ve been able to help.

I’d love to hear some feedback from those of you that are listening. If you found a piece that, that, that you found valuable and, and want to try out, leave us a note in the comments or send us an email. Don’t forget to sign up for the Water Prairie newsletter for updates on what’s happening at Water Prairie, special promo codes available for our Etsy shop and updates on our Amazon bookshelf.

You can sign up at Thanks for joining me today and I’ll see you next week.

Tonya Wollum


Tonya Wollum is a disability advocate and host of the Water Prairie Chronicles podcast which connects special needs parents with resources to help them navigate parenting a child with a disability. She is the mother of 2 college-age children who have each grown up with a disability. That experience, along with a background in education, led her to create the Water Prairie Chronicles to help share what she has learned with parents of younger children to help them know how to advocate for their children.

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