Three things I learned when communicating with kids
The Skill of Effective Communication is used in all of the other skills taught by Smarter Parenting. This one skill can help you connect more effectively with your children, spouse, and others. It is not easy and takes a lot of practice, but will definitely be well worth the effort.
These are the three things that I learned while using this skill with my family.
1. Eye Contact
You can engage more effectively if you look the person in the eyes. Eye contact is a form of body language which is very important during communication. It indicates that you are paying attention and are focused on what they are saying. If a child is trying to make a point, and we want to understand them correctly, we need to look directly into their eyes. At times, this may mean getting down to a child’s level by kneeling. Eye contact also reflects comfort and sincerity when communicating with kids. It shows that you are willing to listen and are paying attention. A big part of eye contact is building trust. The child or another person you are speaking to will be more likely to trust and respect you if you maintain eye contact. It indicates “You are important to me and I am listening”. If you are being interrupted when someone is trying to communicate with you, say “just a moment”, until you can give them your full attention. Eye contact is the most important communication tool. It is vital to effective communication. You need not stare but look back and forth between the eyes and the mouth when they are speaking.
Clarification of what has been communicated to you is essential. By restating what they said, you can start to understand if it is what they meant. If you are not correctly understanding what was said, problems will arise. Repeat back to them what you thought you heard and give them a chance to acknowledge “yes” or “no”. They can then correct you if what you heard is incorrect. Help to resolve any areas of confusion or misunderstanding. Clarification also reassures the speaker that the listener is genuinely interested and is attempting to understand what is being communicated. Use a calm tone and be non-judgemental when clarifying. You can also summarize and seek feedback as to the accuracy of what is being shared. It is okay to admit if you are unsure about what the speaker means. Help the other person clarify what, when, where, how and who is involved.
3. State Your Thoughts
Pause and assure them that you have heard and understood what they are saying. Continue to be calm. Ask for their permission to share what you think. State your thoughts on the subject. Talk openly about your concerns. Be direct and honest and stick to the facts. Teach them not to interrupt you while you are giving your thoughts. By having them repeat back what they think you said, you can be assured that they heard you and that you’re all on the same page. You can come up with a solution to the problem knowing that you both understand the issue. If unable to come up with a solution, you may need to repeat the steps.
Effective Communication takes practice. Introduce it to them at a neutral time to teach them the correct steps. Practicing at a neutral time will save your relationship with your child and increase your happiness when things go well. Remember that your child’s brain is still developing, so be patient and unemotional.
Effective Communication really will help your family!