Effective communication is the key to everything in life, but ever so often when it comes to children, actions truly speak louder than words. To communicate is a skill that needs to be learnt over time and even as adults we still can’t get it right!
Parents frequently joke that their little sprouts don’t hear a single word they say unless it’s something they don’t want them to hear or the sound of a chocolate wrapper in the grocery bag. The truth is children hear more than we think… Being a good listener and good communicator yourself sets the bar for how your communication with your kids will be. There are several obstacles along the way where you will, however, trip and fall.
Communication comes in many ways, shapes and forms. Make sure you give your child an opportunity to express themselves, whether it is through dancing, music, drawing, painting, messing with textures, banging drums, shaking maracas – and join in too. Don’t be afraid to lay down with them on the carpet and see the world from their point of view. It is of the utmost importance to communicate with actions. There is no such thing as too many hugs! Start with waking up your kid, and then work in a hug when they get ready for school. A goodbye with a hug sounds way better than just a wave or a word. Greet your child with a tight hug when they are back, snuggle up cosily with them during a nap. You will be amazed at what a hug can do. You do not always need words.
Resist the urge to lecture or reason with your child when they are way too young to understand. Parents sometimes need to make their wishes known, or dole out consequences, without defending their decisions. While explaining the rationale for your decisions to older children may improve communication, sometimes it is better to delay that discussion to when everyone is calm.
Model the behaviour you want your child to develop. If you want your child to be an effective communicator, let them see it in your everyday actions, and, chances are, they will learn some skills from you that you would have never thought they ever picked up on!