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  • Writer's pictureNatasha Patiño

Building Bridges with Our Kids. '5 Communication ‘No-No’s’ that Build Walls


Hi everyone, Natasha here again and ready to share these helpful tips to connect more with your children!!!


Let’s be real… (especially teenagers) can be very difficult to talk to and to just listen to us.  Plus, when they get hormonal and moody…forget about it!! It’s almost impossible to get through to them.   And it seems the more we try to reach out, the more they push away.  It’s hard to connect because a wall has been built. 

We try to say the right thing, we mean well with what we say, but it’s like we are speaking two different languages.   Sometimes we can feel there is no hope and start to think “what am I doing wrong?!”

I am here to let you know that you are not alone! I work a lot with families that have this struggle, and help them find a common language.  Both the parent AND the child wanted to connect, they just didn’t know how.  These tips are also very helpful with couples, friendships, and any other relationship.  Consider adding these tools to your “toolbox” of skills, to build more connection!



I often use this as a way to explain the importance of building bridges with our children.   Consider the parent and child as being their own person, their own ‘island.’   Each one has their own opinion, identity, yet it’s so important to have this bridge to connect with one another.  When we are not communicating well, it’s like two separate islands with no connection. That’s not a good feeling!  The stronger the bridge is, the more likely your child will come to you when they have problems and turn more towards you versus away.  I think this is a goal every parent has.

When looking at these below, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We all make mistakes, but it’s about realizing when we do this and hopefully do better.  Below you will have a list of five common ‘communication no-no’s’ that often build walls versus building a bridge. 



Below is the scenario I’ll use while going through these examples:


Scenario: “your 11-year-old daughter tells you after school, how she’s really upset that her friend sat with other friends at lunch.”


1.     The Fixer


This parent jumps to telling the child what do to…tries to fix the problem for them.

This is not helpful, because it can make the child feel like you don’t think they can handle it themselves, and it is not what they want to hear.  You’re also not helping them work through this, which can be a great life lesson. You’re fixing, not listening! 

Examples of Reponses:

“Well next time, you need to …….”

“You need to tell her ……”


2.     One-Upper


This parent makes it about themselves…..takes the ‘microphone’ essentially.

Again, they mean well because they are trying to connect but it takes the attention away from them. The parent just wants the child to realize, “I get it, I know what you’re going through.”  But the child does not feel supported and often gets angry because it’s about you now.  They are left alone to deal with their problem.

Examples of Reponses:

“I remember when that happened to me when I was…..”

“That happened to Amanda, Traci’s daughter.  And she…..”

(If you ever use “that happened to…” you’re probably being a one-upper.)



3.     Dismissive/Minimizer


This parent makes it seem like what’s happening is not a big deal.

This parent just wants the child to move on and be okay, but not healthy or supportive.  To the child, it can feel like you’re saying ‘you’re being dramatic, silly, sensitive, you’re being too much.’  If it’s a big deal to your child, then it is a big deal. 

This is VERY common in some cultures, like the Latino culture, because parents just want to move on, and often say things like “you don’t need that, you’re fine.”   Or “why are you still so upset about that?”   This, in my opinion, can be one of the most damaging communication no-no’s to relationships and often results in massive breaks in relationships.  Walls are built very quickly and very thick! 

Remember….. whatever the child feels, they have a right to feel this way. Help them navigate it, not ignore it! 


Examples of Reponses:

“Well just forget about it. You have other friends.” 

“I don’t understand why you’re upset about this one person.”


4.     Rabbit Hole/Rambler


This parent keeps talking, gets lost in a rabbit hole, and often ends up on a completely different topic.

This happens a lot when parents get anxious about what to say or how to respond and speak before they think.  This is not healthy, because again, the child is left alone to deal with their problem because the parent has left the topic.  Breathe before you speak, to help you filter your words!!

Examples of Responses:

“I mean, that’s what friends do.  You know you cannot depend on just one friend, you have to have several so these things don’t upset you so much. I mean a friend is someone who is…….  (you have lost your daughter’s attention)”

“That stinks, but remember you can’t depend on others or you will go through life looking for others to make you happy.  That’s not good, I read in this book once that…….”


5.     Low Response

This parent gives little to no response.

I see this a lot with parents that were not taught good communication from their parents or had  abusive or neglectful parents.   Essentially, they didn’t learn the tools to communicate or connect, so sometimes it’s easier to not say anything versus saying the wrong thing.  To this child, it may feel like what they’re saying is not important. 


Examples of Responses:


“What do you want me to say?!” (defensively)



I cannot stress this enough.   All of these responses are a person’s way to help and connect, it’s just not a good way of doing it.   There are so many benefits to a child feeling connected to their parent and having a strong bridge with them, so please keep working on being a safe person that they can talk to.  Subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss future blogs, including ones about ways to communicate and turn towards one another!


And remember, at the end of the day, we are just trying to help one another navigate and enjoy life together! 


Until next time,


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