When your child was young, communication was simple. If they wanted to get their feelings through, they would cry or express them in other ways. As they grow, communication becomes challenging. The older they become, the more important communication is.
Children Thrive On Attention
Children need attention. For a child, negative attention is better than no attention at all, however, positive attention helps to establish trust between the two of you. Negative attention does the opposite.
The type of attention you give your child has a direct effect on self-image. A positive self-image is essential for your children’s confidence and how they communicate with others. Conversely, kids with a poor self-image are likely to have lower grades and fewer friends.
Get On Your Child’s Level
No matter their age, towering above your child during communication is imperative. Someone who towers above you is intimidating at any age. You need to ensure that your child connects with you and can maintain eye contact.
Notice Changes In Behavior
Once kids know what to expect from you, they will expect it. If you constantly give them negative interactions, they’ll start to avoid you as they get older, perhaps hiding in their room all day or making as little conversation with you as possible. On the other hand, if your interactions have all been positive, but you notice a huge shift in their mood or behavior, there could be something else going on.
While moodiness is normal in a teenager, a sudden change may need investigating. The problem is, if they feel uncomfortable talking to you, they will not trust you enough to tell you if abuse occurred. The same can be true if your child has suddenly become clingy, especially in younger kids. Pay attention to when this happens. Do not push them away; instead, find a time to talk to them about why it happens.
Empathize When They Fail; Celebrate When They Succeed.
Failure usually leads to success, so make sure your child knows that. Your child must understand that failures do not determine their self-worth. One way is to empathize with them when they fail. Talk to their feelings and respond with understanding. Let them know that what matters is they did their best.
Celebrate when your children win. Let’s face it, winning is a great feeling. No matter how busy you are, take time to share in their excitement. Let them do something out of the ordinary, like choose what’s for dinner. The celebration does not have to be something huge. Just show that you share in their excitement.
When They Make Mistakes Talk About the Behavior
Kids make mistakes. It is essential when they do to focus on the behavior and not on them. Instead of saying “that was stupid” or “what is wrong with you,” change it to “how can I help you” or “Let’s talk about what happened.” Acknowledge the mistake, listen to what happened, and allow them to grow from their mistake.
For example, if they received a bad grade on a test, ask them why it happened instead of yelling at them. Maybe they did not study, or they could get anxious when they have to take a test. If either of these is the case, talk with them about what they can do or if there are ways you can help.
Pay Attention To Your Non-Verbal Communication
You may not know that the tone of your voice can be more important than what you say. For example, if your child wants to share something, and you say something positive, but your voice sounds bored or distracted, they may choose someone else to tell next time… Pay attention to your voice and how you sound when talking to others.
In addition to paying attention to your tone, think about other ways you display emotion. For example, your body language lets others know if what they are saying matters. From the way you stand or sit to hand gestures, you are still communicating.
Do Not Communicate When You are Angry
If you or your child are angry, take a break until you both are calm. People say things out of anger that they do not mean. It is okay to tell your child that you are too upset to talk, and you need time to calm down. If your child tells you they are too upset to speak, respect that and give them time.
Practice staying calm even when it is hard because there will be times when they will try to start an argument. It is difficult to allow your son or daughter to be rude or sarcastic. During these times, you need to practice empathy and patience. Young children do not often have the vocabulary or emotional intelligence to express how their feeling appropriately, and it is up to you, as the parent, to model how to do so. You can start by sportscasting how they are feeling in the moment; then, at a later time, when everyone is calm, you can discuss how they felt and appropriate ways to handle those big emotions.
Effective communication is not something that comes naturally. However, from early childhood, your child needs to learn how to communicate. You can do this by effectively sharing with them and helping them know the importance of verbal and nonverbal skills.