Let’s Talk!

20120720_135743Ah, communication – a great one for us parents to worry about! “My child wont talk”, “I never know what to say”, “they only ever listen when I resort to shouting” (and in my case, I find myself ‘resorting’ quite quickly).

If you have read any parenting books or watched ‘Supernanny’, you will know the correct way to communicate with your child. Come down to their level. Make eye contact. Use a calm voice. Give them time to reply. All very true and extremely useful when you find yourself shouting at them for the Nth time about something or other – calm yourself, take the aforementioned steps, and you will immediately get a better result.

Communication summed up, eh? Well…do you recognise this scenario? Your child comes home from a play date, school or creche, and you ask them how it was. What did they do? Did they have a good time? And for each question, you’re invariably answered with ‘dunno!’ or ‘I can’t remember.’ Or worse, silence!

Why is this? Simply put, it’s because children live in the now. They don’t plan for the furtue or nurture the past – they go for it, full-tilt, headlong, in the moment! How many self-help books are out there telling us that we should all live this way? Yet when our children do it, we get frustrated – we want them to tell us what they did, if they enjoyed themselves, or if they’re happy. But communication is not just about asking a question and getting an answer. Almost everything we do with our children is helping them to learn how to communicate.

Do you watch your child? Yes, of course you do. You watch them all the time, communicating to them that they are always safe when you are around. Do you sing with your child? Believe me, I have a truly awful singing voice, but any child I have ever sung to has loved it! From nursery rhymes all the way up to the latest hit, and when all else fails, singing with your child is one of the easiest ways of keeping this communication going. Do you read with your child? Again, a no-brainer – we all read with our children. A great communication tool is asking questions whilst reading, such as ‘where is the duck’? Or exploring feelings like ‘wasn’t that funny?’, ‘why do you think the princess is sad?’ When playing with your child, from peek-a-boo to building a multi-level lego house, you are constantly communicating both verbally and non-verbally. Do you ever joke together? One of best ways of communicating with our children is through humour – from making funny faces at each other, to making up jokey rhymes… including ones about ourselves! A child learning to communicate with humour will find even the most difficult subjects troubling them easier to broach.

And most obvious, talking! Talk, talk, talk. In the car, at the table, in the bath, out for a walk, during colouring, getting dressed, anywhere and everywhere, talk with your child. Anything can be a topic of conversation, but knowing that you are up for a chat and will always listen is one of the strongest messages that banter/chat will send to your child.

Listening to your child is incredibly important for building good communication skills. So even though they are telling you something for the hundreth time that day, always listen. You never know what you might hear in the midst of all the little facts they think you absolutely need to know! Obviously, stopping to listen every time your child wants to tell you something is not feasible; however, rather then pretending to listen say, ‘hang on, tell me in a moment’ and follow up asap. Coming back to it an hour later or the next day means they are unlikely to remember, and the moment is most likely lost. When you hear something that you wish you hadn’t, be it about hurt feelings, getting in trouble, having a fight, bullying or being bullied, stay calm. Any extreme reaction could affect their future willingness to communicate with you. Every issue will be better dealt with after some quiet contemplation. Equally, when they do tell you the ‘big stuff’, acknowledge the fact that they have told you and reassure them that you will help them to deal with it, affirming with them that communication works!

Thanks for reading


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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Why Not? | BabySteps

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