The TENDER Approach to Communicating With Your Kids

Here’s a short quiz for you. What are the three possible outcomes when we attempt to communicate with our kids? According to Dr. Paul Coleman, they are:

1. The conversation will bring you closer to your kids.

2. The conversation will start an argument.

3. The conversation will lead to avoidance or withdrawal.

Our goal is avoid number two. Of course, arguments are sometimes unavoidable; when this happens we have to make sure we clear the air before ending the conversation. Coleman discusses a communication plan called, TENDER.

The TENDER method of communicating involves:

Teaching – Involves instructing kids in routine matters, explaining concepts and answering questions.

Empathizing – Means understanding your child’s pain and talking to your child in a way that lets him know you understand.

Negotiating – Is the art of listening to what your child wants, understanding their reasons for wanting something and (sometimes) negotiating an agreement with them.

Dos & Don’ts – Involves enforcing established house rules.

Encouraging – Means offering words of praise and reassurance.

Reporting – Reporting refers to stating facts, asking questions, asking your child’s opinion or making requests.

Coleman also points out that the tone of voice we speak in has an effect on the conversation. If we are upset and aggravated, for instance, we tend to you use harsh words and speak in a loud tone of voice. The harsher we speak, the more upset we become. But if we speak in a calm and pleasant manner the less upset we will become. Consequently, we avoid arguments and the inevitable fallouts if we watch our tone of voice. How many times have we gotten upset when someone spoke to us harshly or with an “attitude”? Well, our kids experience those same emotions.

As you go about your day interacting with your kids, using the TENDER approach to communicate with your kids can help you a more effective communicator.

See also:

Conversing With Our Kids

Words You Should Use With Your Kids Every Day

Do You Talk To Your Kids Or At Them?