Loris Malaguzzi (Reggio Emilia, Italy) rightly said, “Children have hundred languages, and parents and society steal ninety nine and then ask the child to use only one language”
It is important for adults to learn how to communicate with children. Because children know 100 ways of communicating with you, but sadly we know only one- talking. What happened to raised eyebrows, smiling, hugging, biting your lips, are these not forms of communication? Remember, communication happens on two levels, one with words but 80% is with body language. Accept and understand both forms and life will be more happier and easier.
Before our children acquire language skills, we focus on and accept their nonverbal communications, but as soon as the child acquires language skills, parents stop focusing on the nonverbal cues and this some where frustrates the child and makes the parent-child relationship more stressful.
Parents insist that a child says sorry, thank you, please, whereas in the growing years the child sometimes speaks with ‘expressions’ because to your child that is more important than words,
- But we teach them that it is more important to say sorry than to hug the person you have hurt.
- It is more important to say thank you than to smile at the person who gave you the gift.
- We teach them to ‘say’ the words and not ‘feel’ them.
- We unknowingly teach them that it is fine to hurt someone, but never , never forget to say sorry!
- Our focus should actually be on both, expressions/feelings and words.
Avoid using unnecessary questions.-
Questions like,’ Are you going to eat your food or not?’ in which there is no choice or actually no real choice, tend to confuse children and then they feel frustrated when you do not do what they answered. Sometimes many teachers ask children, ‘Do you want to listen to a story?’ and children may say ‘No’ but the teacher still continues with the story, this irritates children and they feel let down. Because your question made them feel that they have a choice and when they opted for the choice, you still forced them to do what you want. Isn’t it frustrating?
We women, I feel are born with an extra gene! The gene of ‘sarcasm’. And we use it more often on the very people who do not understand it, namely husbands and children! So, when the husband comes home late, we say, ‘ Today you have come very early!’ and the husband comes even later the next day just to please you! Similarly with children, when a child breaks a toy, we get irritated and say, ‘Yes, break them all’, and he dutifully proceeds to do so and to his utter consternation finds that you are angrier!
So, weed out the rhetoric and the sarcasm, from your communication with children. Avoid sarcasm as a tone behind a sentence as children are too young to understand such ‘tones’ , as they tend to do exactly as the sentence says.
Give requests and directions positively, start a sentence with a positive and not a negative words.
‘Walk slowly’ would be a better way of instructing, instead of saying,’ Don’t run’. Similarly, instead of saying, ‘Don’t sit there’, it is better to say, ‘Lets sit here as you may get hurt on that stool’. Yes it requires longer sentences and sometimes we do not have the patience, but imagine if your world is always filled with, ‘no’, ‘don’t’, ‘never’?
It is important to give instructions to children explaining the reason why you do not want them to do the particular thing or act in a particular way. Just telling them not to do it, is not enough.
Avoid repeating your instructions –
Repetition is good for children, but the repetition should not be boring or it becomes drill and then children tend to switch off and ignore the message. When you tend to repeat yourself too much then it also teaches children that you are not serious the first time and they will learn to listen to you only after you have repeated the instruction a couple of times. So if you want your children to listen to you , get the attention first .Eye contact is very important for good listening and once you have their attention, give your instruction to the point. If you feel you want to repeat then questioning would be a better way to repeat.
Do not talk too loudly-
If the child is surrounded by adults who talk loudly and shout all the time then the child learns to listen to loud voices . But if we surround the child with soft voices, soothing calm voices, it will guide him to make the right decisions.
So in short, for better communication with your child, Avoid too many instructions, keep language clutter free, and prepare your child to listen, because in education most of his learning will be done by listening.
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