We often talk about the importance of developing positive communication skills in children. But do you practice positive communication with your child? Think about it! Do they have to repeatedly call you to get your attention? Do your eyes turn to your phone while they are telling you about their school day? If yes, you are not positively communicating with your child.
I know I wasn’t!
It took a comment from my 7-year-old for me to realize that my children were secondary at times. Although I was hearing them, I was not listening! And yes, there is a difference between the two
What Is Positive Communication With Children?
Does it mean that we use positive and encouraging words with kids all the time? The answer would be both, a Yes and a No!
Yes, you must use positive and encouraging words in your conversations. No, because that’s not what positive communication with children is just about.
It’s not only our words that matter. We need to be aware of the effects of our non-verbal cues too. This includes the finer details that say ‘we are listening,’ such as:
- Pausing our tasks.
- Maintaining eye contact throughout the conversation.
- Giving coherent responses.
These details are usually overlooked when we are busy with our tasks. Children, however, are very observant. They know when we are distracted!
Importance of Positive Communication with Children
Children are taught to develop positive communication skills, to express themselves with confidence and clarity. Likewise, positive communication with children is important as it helps them:
- Feel loved, secure and safe with you.
- Develop a strong, positive, and lasting relationship with you based on respect and trust.
- Build their self-esteem and confidence.
- Learn good communication practices that can help them develop healthy relationships.
Developing Positive Communication With Children
How can we positively communicate with our children? Here are 5 guidelines to help you practice positive communication with kids:
Practice Active Listening:
Hearing and listening are entirely different. While hearing is the perception of sound, listening is the process by which we understand the words and sentences by paying attention to them. In other words, hearing is a passive process while listening is active.
So which must we practice? Listening or hearing? That said, it is also important to ‘listen’ to understand your child. When parents ‘listen,’ children are more likely to open up about their lives to you.
Think back on the times you failed to listen to your child. It happens when we are distracted, or worried about our child.
Our first response is to react, instead of paying close attention to what the child is trying to communicate to us.
This is mainly when you need to practice active listening, as the lack of it can affect your relationship with the child, especially when kids get older.
Get Down to Their Level:
Another key tip for developing positive communication with kids is that you bend to their level while talking. This is because bending down to your child’s level:
- Can make kids feel more comfortable.
- Is a sign that you are actively listening to them.
- Helps you initiate and maintain eye contact with your kids as you talk to them.
- Gets the kids to focus on you and not the things around them.
Respect and Acknowledge Their Feelings:
Every time we tell kids to “stop crying or acting silly,” we’re unintentionally diminishing their emotions. Like us, children have a right to their emotions and feelings. When we fail to acknowledge and respect these feelings, gradually children learn to guard themselves with us. They learn to conceal their true emotions and feelings, in the fear of being invalidated, ridiculed, or being judged.
For every child, parents are safe persons to whom they can confide their troubles. Remember to be respectful, understanding, and empathetic at all times.
Think Before You Speak:
Words once spoken cannot be taken back. As parents, this is one golden rule we must follow.
It’s easy to let our emotions get the best of us, especially when we are tired and overworked.
But always remember that we have the power to make or break our children with our words and actions.
Therefore, choose to make your child by using positive communication, by refraining from letting your emotions direct your words.
Avoid speaking when angry or annoyed. Count to 10, drink water slowly or solve a math problem mentally, anything to calm yourself and diffuse the situation before talking to your child.
Be Clear And Consistent:
Children thrive on clear and consistent instructions and expectations. Misbehaviors are often the result of inconsistent instructions. For example in a household, chaos can reign if both parents are not consistent in their instructions. When setting rules or expectations, both parents must be on the same page, so that they do not, even accidentally contradict each other.
Children first learn to communicate by communicating with their parents. We must therefore set the standards for positive communication for children to follow. Only then can we help develop positive communication skills within them.
If you find this article helpful. We have more parenting tips in this link; Positive Parenting Tips For Healthy Child Development.