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Dad having a conversation with his son.

Soft Serve: Communicating With Kids

Have you ever been frustrated while communicating with your kids? During dinner one evening, Sophia’s Nana brought her a glass water and set it on the table. Within a matter of seconds, a verbal ping-pong competition erupted between Sophia and her dad. “Tell your Nana, thank you,” Ryan said. “I did,” Sophia replied defensively. Ryan quickly said, “No, you didn’t. I didn’t even see your mouth move.”

This verbal exchange between Daddy and daughter continued as each served in a back-and-forth match of, “No, you didn’t,” and “Yes, I did.” Putting on my umpire hat, I interrupted the game. Sophia left the table and Ryan, seated across from me looked frustrated. “I know she didn’t say thank you,” he said.

From the spectator’s point of view, Sophia was convinced she said thank you. Ryan was just as convinced she hadn’t. Any of this sound familiar? The problem with this competition is no one wins.

When the ball is in your court, as a parent, it’s a good idea to deliver a soft serve. I’m not talking about ice cream, although that might help cool off some tempers. Validate your child’s feelings and perception by using a simple reply. A reply that lets your kiddo know you heard them, while also delivering your message. A great reply back to Sophia might have been, “I understand you said thank you; however, you can’t count it if the person doesn’t hear you.”

Kids (and adults) want to be heard. They want to know you understand them. The next time you find yourself in the midst of a ping-pong match of your own, try the soft serve. It gives both teams a win.

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About Adrianna and Ryan Walden

About Adrianna and Ryan  Walden Ryan and Adrianna Walden have been married for 14 years. The two met when she was working for an arena football team in Norfolk where he was playing football. Ryan is a service coordinator with the Chesapeake Early Intervention Program and Adrianna is a Licensing Specialist for Children's Programs. Both have enjoyed teaching CHKD’s "Happiest Baby" class together for the past eight years. Together they have one daughter, who despite early health issues, is now a thriving and happy school-age child. The Walden's also lead a weekly community group through their church for married couples and their children.