Effective communication with children
“The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice” – Peggy O’Mara
As I’m sitting at the park with my child, my attention quickly shifts to a child who is being screamed at by her mother. “Why would you do that!” “Don’t be so stupid!” “Listen to me!” The tiny child, eyes filled with tears, just stares up at her mother in confusion. The child begins to rebel against the mother’s words and the mother is getting more angry. This is a no win situation.
As adults, we despise being yelled at. When we do something that our boss, spouse, or friends don’t like, we are more receptive to their feedback if it comes in a friendlier tone of voice. Children are no different. It doesn’t matter if you are 5, 25, or 85, you get better results with people if you can learn to communicate in more effective ways.
Children do not like to disappoint and are always looking for ways to please their parents and other adults around them. Children sometimes act out when they feel that they are not being heard. Children should be given a chance to have their voices heard; however, they are only going to do this calmly if the adult they are communicating with remains calm. It’s important to remember that how we speak to our children is paving the path at how they will communicate with others when they are older.
It is important to be cognizant of how we speak to our children. If you tell your child things like they are stupid or ugly they will start to believe it. Think, how we as adults feel, when people say mean things to us; children are no different. They get their feelings hurt and those mean statements are what they start to believe about themselves. Imagine the difference we can make by simply changing the way we speak to people.
“It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” – Frederick Douglass