Imagine a situation where you are having a heated argument with your spouse about spending a weekend at home or going to the restaurant and your child just walks into the room and says, “Mumma! Papa! There are two days in a weekend, let’s go out on Saturday and let’s spend time at home on Sunday”. It is incredible to see that a person, half your age actually just came out of nowhere and gave you a solution for a problem that you have been pondering upon since a long time, isn’t it? Well, that is the generation of today! 21st century children are expressive and have the ability to verbalize their thoughts and opinions very efficiently. However, they do not understand when and where to display their opinions and when to keep quiet. Thus, it is extremely important that an efficient system of communication is cultivated between the child and the adults (e.g. parents, teachers, guardians etc. ) But how does one do that?
1) Family time: In the stressful, busy schedules it becomes very difficult to spend quality time with your family. However it is important to take a break and probably have a small meal, a weekend getaway or just a quick game with your family. It promotes emotional wellbeing and bonding among all the members of the family in turn building a strong foundation for better communication with the child.
2) Undivided Attention: When the child speaks to you, stop what you are doing, make eye contact and listen attentively to what they have to say. If you are busy, never pretend or halfheartedly listen to the child. If you cannot stop and give your full attention, tell them so and make a commitment to talk as soon as possible, and be sure to follow through. This validates their importance to you.
3) Use Positive communication: Positive communication is when one uses more “Do’s” than “Don’ts”. Let the children know what you would like them to do rather than what not to do.
4) Active listening: One of the most effective skills you can learn to use as a caregiver is that of listening to the child. “Hearing is through the ears, but listening is through the mind” It is important to pay attention and understand what is going on with the child and even “mirroring” back those feelings to show that you appreciate what they are feeling. “It looks like you are really angry about having to wash the dishes.” “You are having a hard time deciding who to invite to your party.” “You are disappointed that you did not get a better grade in your project.”
In each of the above examples, the adult simply stated what she heard going on for the child by listening to the child’s words and by observing the child’s body language. One benefit of “listening” to your child is that you can slow down the urge to jump in and immediately “solve” your child’s problems. By listening, you can allow yourself the time to get clear on what the next step might be in handling a situation. Sometimes you may decide that a situation needs nothing more than for you to listen and acknowledge feelings. By listening, you allow child the opportunity to vent their often pent up feelings and you send a very powerful message of compassion. When you allow those feelings without judgment or criticism, children feel valued. Thus, by building a good communication system and honouring your child’s expressions and opinions will help you have a great rapport and trust in your relationship.
By Ms. Mitali Shah & Ms. Ankita Dandekar