How To Model Effective Communication With Your Child
Does your child have problems expressing himself properly? You can help him by being his role model and showing him how to communicate effectively.
By Ritika Banerjee
Six-year-old Aanya wants to share an incident with her parents that happened in school earlier that day. Spotting her mother in the drawing room, she sits next to her, and in a low tone says, “Maa..everyone laughed as I recited my poem today”. Her mother Sangeetha, who’s busy typing out a mail, responds without looking at her. “It will be fine, Aanya,” she says. After a while, Sangeetha looks away from her laptop and asks Aanya, “Do you want anything to eat? Wait, I will get you something”. She gets up and walks out of the room into the kitchen.
Aanya is sad as she really wanted to talk about what happened at school to her mom. While Sangeetha heard her daughter, she didn’t pay attention to what she said and Aanya felt that what she felt was not important to her mother.
As parents, we must remember that we are our children’s biggest role models. They learn by observing us and imitate what we do and say. So, how we communicate with others and our children teaches them how to get their thoughts and opinions across effectively.
So, what exactly is effective communication?
According to a research, ‘The role of communication in the parent-child interaction’ by Patricia Luciana et al, published in Procedia - Social and Behavioral Science by Elsevier (2012), ‘communication is done in three levels - verbal, non-verbal and logical. If these levels have no contradictions, then the communication is considered effective’. Effective communication is about maintaining a balanced approach in listening, interpreting and responding when having a conversation with someone.
Following are some of the parameters of having an effective communication with your child
- Positive feedback: This helps encourage your child to initiate conversations with you.
- Sensitivity: There may be a range of topics that your child might want to talk to you about. Depending on the subject, respond appropriately. Be mindful of his attention span and age, whenever having a conversation.
- Body language: Observe your child’s body language while she talks. The tone and her expression may give you a better idea of what she’s trying to say rather than the words she is using to express herself.
How to teach your child to communicate effectively?
- Set aside time: Each day have a fixed time when you speak to your child about his day. It could be over family meals or before he goes to bed. Even if in the beginning, things don’t work out, making it a habit will eventually make the conversations more comfortable.
- Solve problems together: If she has brought to your notice a particular issue at school or at home, sit down with her and work together to find a solution. Take time and don’t hasten the process.
- Create a feelings vocabulary: When she is talking about how a certain thing makes her feel, try and help her understand the feeling and use words to express them.
- Communicate at his level: When talking to your little one, get down to his level, both physically and verbally, to communicate with him. This will make him feel comfortable and he will also know that he has your full attention. This will teach him some key lessons about how to communicate effectively like paying attention and making eye contact.
- Listen: Listening is a skill that lies at the heart of effective communication. SO, it’s important you don’t just hear what she is saying but listen to her as well. It will also teach her that listening attentively is an important part of communication.
- Build on his thoughts: When he is expressing his thoughts to you, build on what he is saying. Ask questions and prompt him to elaborate further. Statements like, ‘Yes, tell me more..’ will help him in expressing himself verbally.
Effective communication is key to forming strong personal and professional relationships. By being a role model and helping your child communicate properly, you will teach her a few life skills that will come in handy for the rest of her life.
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