It is vitally important for parents to learn how to start communicating with children effectively, and this is not always as easy as you might imagine. Communication is a skill which we all need to learn and there is certainly a right way and a wrong way to approach the subject.
The first thing that we need to realize is that people vary widely in so many different areas and that there is no single way to communicate with others which will work with everybody in all circumstances. As a result, there is no single rule of communication which we can simply learn and apply. Studies, combined with many years of experience, have however shown that there are some methods of communication which are usually effective and which work better than others.
The First Rule Of Communicating With Children: Be Honest
The most important rule when it comes to communicating with our children is honesty. Children are very intuitive and they will easily spot a situation in which you are lying to them.
This doesn’t mean that you have to answer all of your childrens’ questions in a totally open and frank manner. There are a few things that your children don’t need to know, or shouldn’t know, and you also have your own right to privacy. Just how much information you impart to your children will depend upon their age, their ability to understand the information, their level of genuine interest in the information and how comfortable you feel about sharing the information. The secret is to share information as and when it is appropriate, but not to sidestep an issue by trying to lie your way out of it.
Another important rule of communicating with children is to pick the right time to talk to them. Let’s suppose, for example, that you are concerned about a child’s attitude towards other people’s property and feel that he needs to learn the ins and outs of respecting other people’s belongings.
Simply sitting him down and talking about the problem would be one option, but there’s a fair chance that this approach won’t have the desired effect. If, however, you wait a while and watch for a suitable example of the problem outside of the family you could achieve much better results.
Seeing an example while out shopping or on the television could provide the perfect moment to open a discussion on the issue, perhaps along the lines of, “Did you see what she just did?” and inviting the child to comments with something like, “What do you think of that then?”
By approaching the problem in this way the child can see the problem in the context of a real life setting and has the opportunity to express his point of view, as well as discovering what you think about it. The child will benefit far more from this approach than he would from a ‘lecture’ on the subject.
Yet another secret to communicating with children is the skill of listening. Communication is a two way process and yet it is amazing how often this fact seems to be overlooked.
One problem which arises in many families is that of hypocrisy. This is simply a case of parents saying one thing and doing another, or telling their children to do this or that while doing exactly the opposite themselves. The problem is that, while children see the problem only too clearly, parents themselves often miss it altogether.
Children see more than we often realize and are affected by everything that goes on around them. However, unless you take the time to listen to them, how can you know how they are feeling and what they are thinking.
A very effective approach is sometimes referred to as ‘Stop, look and listen’. If your child need to speak to you then stop whatever you’re doing, look directly at the child and listen to what he or she has to say. Giving your children your attention in this manner sends a strong signal that you are interested in what they have to say and that you value their views, thoughts and opinions. Communicating with children doesn’t have to be difficult, following these few simple rules should help to make things easier.