How do you talk with your children; have you ever just sat down and thought about it?
If you take a walk through the neighborhood – a store, school, school and so on – and observe how other people talk with their children you can probably pick out areas in which you could make improvements for yourself. You may see parents in a hurry, rolling their eyes, refusing to buy something, ignoring kids or maybe even getting physical with their child.
Talking to our children becomes more of a habit than we realize unless we change the talk patterns. Here are a few quick tips for communicating better with children:
When your child speaks to you, stop what you are doing, look them in the eye and listen. Stopping what you are doing shows respect, that you are ready to listen and what they say is important to you. Hearing, what someone says is improved by looking at the person as they speak. To test this out, have your child go in another room where they can hear but not see you. Give them instructions to write down on making a perfect boiled egg and then a deviled egg sandwich. Now read what they jotted down and see how closely the instructions match.
Talk with children, not at them. Conversation where ideas are exchanged rather than one-sided instructions or demands, are more conducive to cooperation and understanding. Talking at kids does not encourage conversation. Engaging their attention by asking questions can help and teaches children to do likewise.
Children know when adults treat them as invisible beings; when children are invisible they do not build a connection. If you speak to an adult and their child is nearby then speak to them in a normal voice, even if only to say ‘hello.’ They will feel valued and the experience becomes part of learning social graces and good manners.
Listen and talk with purpose. Rather than a robotic approach, listen actively when children speak: Ask questions to make sure you understand and then repeat back what you believe they are saying. When you give children important information or instructions have them repeat back to you what they understand. Doing this when needed can save many mistakes or hurt feelings.
By practicing these tips anyone can improve communications with children and as any parent knows, communication becomes more important with each passing year. It’s never too late so start today and build on the conversation style you wish to have for the future. It really is that simple.
PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Ed Yourdon Under Flicker/CC License Original .
Jackie Saulmon Ramirez has served as a volunteer with Parents Anonymous® of New Jersey, Inc. for more than twenty years, giving and getting support. Find her blog here on her contact page.