If you’ve been having difficulty with a child in the family, affective forecasting (as it’s known in the world of psychology) is an effective yet simple means of communication that may help make life easier. It’s especially effective with children struggling with core executive function needs, such as being rigid and unchangeable. Effective communication with teens by forecasting ahead of time is powerful and calming.
Forecasting by definition is a powerful tool that refers to the prediction of future emotions. A practical application of this would be explaining upcoming events to your child before they happen and what they should expect. This way, the child can think about the future event and prepare themselves for the onset of future emotions.
For example, if your family planned to go into town tomorrow, forecasting means you would tell your child the day before that they will be getting in the car with the rest of the family after school and going to town. You would remind them again before they go to school in the morning and again via text as they are walking home from school. Effective forecasting can greatly improve communication between parents and children at home.
How Does Forecasting Improve Communication?
Communicating with children and teens can be a huge struggle. Forecasting is a pragmatic approach to solving these communication roadblocks. By using this technique, you can build trust, help kids predict their emotions, and even improve future outcomes.
Children who are struggling with their mental health need structure and predictability to feel safe. That’s why springing events on them can be a great cause of anxiety that you may not even realize you’re causing. Make sure your children are well aware of the upcoming planned activities, in order to improve communication with them.
First and foremost, forecasting builds trust. When you minimize the surprises in a struggling child’s life by being fully transparent about upcoming activities, they feel more secure about life, and they trust you more as a result. Trust is an important element of effective communication that helps parents and their children hear and understand each other more effectively.
Anticipate and Prepare for Future Emotions
Unanticipated events can cause a lot of stress and anxiety and uncertainty to an already-struggling child’s life. When you give them a chance to anticipate future events, the child can prepare for the emotions they may experience, whether positive or negative.
For example, say your family is planning a camping trip that involves hiking. You will explain that your family will be sleeping on the ground, exercising, experiencing extreme temperatures, and possibly encountering water. This will make it less of a shock when circumstances of minor camping discomfort arise and help your son or daughter prepare for potentially negative emotions and have a less extreme reaction to them.
As you discuss what will be happening in upcoming events, you can prepare accordingly in order to mitigate negative situations. In the camping example, you could prepare by bringing comfortable shoes and cold water for hiking, a soft pad to sleep on at night, and dry clothing to change into after playing in the river or lake. When your child understands the things that are going to happen and also has ways to make those events less stressful, they will be more likely to have a positive experience.
Reach Out to Us for Additional Support
If you’d like more information about forecasting or find additional resources, your friends at Choose Mental Health are here for you. Browse our video library, other support articles, or get in touch with us for a free assessment today. The results will be in your email inbox within 24 hours.