Communicating with young children
Communicating positively with young children helps them develop confidence, feelings of selfworth, and good relationships with others. Modeling appropriate behavior is one of the best ways to get desired behavior from a child. Positive communication leads to nurturing relationships, cooperation, and feelings of worth.
Important points to consider while communicating with children:
- Get the child’s attention before speaking.
(Example: “Sarah.” Wait until the child stops playing with the doll and looks at you.) Communicate at the child’s level. Adults need to stoop down to the child’s level or sit beside her.
- Eliminate distractions and make & maintain eye contact.
For example, If a parent is reading a newspaper or watching television and the child wants to speak to you, kindly keep the paper aside or switch the television off and pay attention to what the child is saying.
- Make requests simple.
Too many requests are confusing for a young child to remember. Make sure that your requests are short, clear and one at a time. For example, Rather than saying the child “clean your room” one can say “keep the books in the rack” then “put the toys in the basket”
- Keep lines of communication open by listening attentively when the child talks to you.
Encourage the child to talk to you. However, if you are busy, do not pretend to listen. Tell the child, “I’m busy now, but we will talk about it later.” Be sure to follow through with the child.
- Use kind positive words and actions to encourage and support the child.
For example: When the child meets with toilet accident one can always say “Rahul for now it is alright, next time when you want to pee or poop please ask mummy to take you to take you to the washroom”
- Ask the right questions.
Open-ended questions that begin with the words “what,” “where,” “whom,” or “how” are often very useful in getting children to open up. Parents should try to avoid asking questions that require only a yes or no answer.
- Express your own feelings and ideas when communicating with children & admit it when you don’t know something.
For example: “if the child wants to know what is lady finger known as in English and parent doesn’t knows it day “I am sorry dear, I am unaware about this. But I will find out and let you know by tomorrow.”
- Regularly schedule family meetings or times to talk.
For example, families can use the dinner hour each night as a time to catch up with each other. Or, parents can set aside time to play communication games, such as picking specific topics of discussion and giving everyone in the family a chance to express their opinions.
Try to make explanations complete.
For example: when the child wants to know about what a sanitary napkins? Rather than asking the child to keep quiet and stop asking, one can always say “It is mummy’s diaper” and stop the conversation there.
Parents who communicate effectively with their children are more likely to have children who are willing to do what they are told. Such children know what to expect from their parents, and once children know what is expected of them, they are more likely to live up to these expectations. They are also more likely to feel secure in their position in the family, and are thus more likely to be cooperative.