Make Communication With Your Child A Priority

When speaking to your children, it is vital to pay heed to your tone and how you modulate your voice. As humans, we often detect the exact way we are spoken to, and children are no different. At times, we may not come off as we intend to.

The three most common ways that parents communicate with their kids would be aggressive, passive, and assertive.

Parents with aggressive nature tend to yell and demean their children with their choice of words. Parents who choose to interact with their offspring passively often speak in an unassertive manner, as they are afraid to upset their children.

Both the above are often ineffective ways of communication. Being an optimally assertive parent is ideal. In this approach, parents are willing to hear their children out, yet remain firm when required. This way the expectations of both parent and the child are met.

Every interaction with your child can be a form of communication. The way you look at them, the tone you use when speaking, and even a hug or a kiss – are all ways of communicating.

Thus, communication can be both verbal – voice pitch, words used, etc., and non-verbal – facial expressions, eye contact, and hand gestures.

Some tips to improve both verbal and non-verbal communication skills:

1. Active Listening:

When you listen actively, children are aware they are being both heard and understood. With the help of positive affirmations like smiles and nods, the adults show that they are engaging with the child and that they care.

Coming down to their eye level as you speak, will help them feel a stronger connection to you.

2. Be Non-judgemental:

When interacting with your child, have a non-judgemental attitude. Children facing a non-judgemental adult are more likely to open up and express themselves without inhibitions.

3. Speak in an Age Appropriate Manner:

Use age-appropriate vocabulary and communicate unambiguously. Be sure to include only kind words when talking to your child, as it sets a positive example. Children deserve respect and love just like anyone else.

4. Avoid Rewards to Elicit Good Behaviour:

Eliciting good behaviour by offering rewards such as a weekly run to the ice cream shop may offer short-term control. However, they do not help in developing boundaries and this can lead to friction in the long term.

Be sure to set realistic expectations about what you expect from your child. Praise good behaviour when exhibited and explain the pitfalls of bad behaviour when they occur.

5. Help Your Child Label Their Feelings:

It is helpful in the long term if the child can understand and attribute a label to their feelings. For example, if they are throwing a tantrum, help them know whether it is due to anger, hurt, fear, helplessness or any other emotion.

Understanding the emotions they are going through will help them get a grip and navigate their feelings better.

6. Focus on Behaviour:

It is natural to be upset with your child occasionally. Nevertheless, when airing your criticism, be sure to direct it at their behaviour and not at them. If they leave a messy room behind, you could say, “I don’t appreciate the mess you leave your room in”, instead of “Why are you such a messy person?”

7. Lead by Example:

Always set a good example for your offspring. Children see the world through their parent’s eyes. What you do is as important as what you say.

It would be good to avoid making promises you can’t keep. Doing so will help maintain trust between parent and child. Kindness and love go a long way and help cement the bond with your child.

— Mohammed Fazeel

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