HOW TO COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR CHILD IN A KIND AN SUCCESSFUL WAY
I am going to tell you some information that you probably already know but it is very important. The difference is that today we get to practice and apply these tools to use in your daily routine.
I want to start by saying that YES you are a good parent! We all have a hard time with this parenting roll. We try very hard… For that reason I am starting a movement of NO GUILT! I hear a lot of parents with guilt about what they provide for their children …and it is never enough right ?. But the truth is that most of us try to do our best to be good parents. If you are reading this that is because you care. You are taking some time to invest in your child. So please don't punish yourself. We all lose our cool at some point. It is very hard to be very patient when we have to make things happen, get somewhere, or get things done.
Let’s start: I want you to think or just say out loud these sentences:
Say these in a mean way:
Do your homework right now!
Put your jacket on quickly, we are leaving!
Say these in a kind loving way:
What is your plan for doing your homework?
What do you need to take in case it gets cold outside?
Do you want to wear the red shorts or the blue shorts?
I understand you are upset, I am sorry that is very frustrating for you. we can talk about it when you calm down.
Now, what do you think about these sentences? How do they sound to you? Learn how to see from a child’s perspective: HOW IS IT TO BE A CHILD? Imagine a day in your life: Just think about someone telling you what to do all day long. (Get up! Get dressed! Eat this breakfast. Put your shoes on. We have to go to the doctor. Don't do that. You are wasting time. Lets go. Try it again. No, not like that. You are making a mess. Brush your teeth. It is time for bed…). And what about those Sensitive children? (Sensitive children feel like they are in a jumping castle all day long, full of people, colors, stimulation. Their lives are too loud and just overwhelming) Now, are we feeling empathy ?
Communication is with children is not just that they hear my information. I also want them to understand what I am trying to say or need at that moment. It is important to create a connection so we can exchange back and forth our needs. I’d also like to mention the word behavior. How do I tell with my voice, my body, my expression what I need? And most important: How do the children tell us with their voice, body and expressions what they need? That is my point about behavior: With their behavior children are always telling us something that they probably don't know how to express YET. Screaming, crying, telling us they hate us… stomping… all those body expressions are showing us something… So what is that? Why are they acting that way? Well, they just usually want to be heard. There is something they want to communicate. Children just don't know how. Our job as a parents is to teach them that.
Because we all have teenagers in our houses right now (future teenagers). Good Communication is setting up a foundation for later. We really need to start to understand their feelings at this moment, so when our children need us they trust us to help. But also our children need to start practicing how to communicate with others and meet their own needs.
Communication is fundamental to children’s development; children need to be able to understand and be understood. Communication is the foundation of relationships and is essential for learning, play and social interaction. If there is a reason and an answer, and I understand what is going on, my brain will make connections and it will learn better.
The more Children practice, the more they get to communicate better. Better self expression makes children more independent and able to take care of themselves. They don't let others hurt their feelings and they can solve problems on their own. You will see your children communicate their own feelings and be successful.
How do we teach and practice communication? I put together 3 Principles:
Meet children where they are
Be conscious of your interactions
Connection/ empathy: We talk a lot about punishment and that you should pay for what you did. Why? Why does a child that is learning have to pay for what she/he did? Why do we have to make them feel bad for their mistakes? They already feel bad for making a mistake.They are learning and most of the time they make a mistakes, they did not meant to do it! When we blame or judge the children, their brains change into survival mode. So they act out and probably don’t listen to us. They learn not to take risks and they learn to just avoid mistakes.
Children don't listen when they are absent. if you are threatened, you just need to survive. If children are crying it is because they are frustrated or/and sad, and they need to communicate that, so how do we teach them to regulate themselves instead of judge them?
1. Sit down and talk about your and their feelings. If you get used to it, together you can come to great solutions that will work for both sides.
2. Do observations. For example say, “I can see you are sad because he took your toy away. I would be sad too. You were so excited to play with that toy, and they took it from your hands. That makes you frustrated. I am sorry you feel that way.” You are validating his/her feelings. Now you are connected. Children really feel validated because you are showing you understand their feelings. But in the heat of the moment they don't know how to control themselves. If you stop for a moment and ask what they need you will probably understand why they acting out. Now you have compassion.
Meet them where they are: Remember they are children, so set up your expectations according to their age (it is very different to talk to a 2-year-old rather than a 5-year-old).
Time of day: At 6:00 pm after a whole day of activities children are done for the day and their tolerance is minimal.
Personality: We are all different and sometimes tools your neighbor uses with their children won’t work for yours. So learn your children’s personality and interests.
Be conscious of your interactions: The attitude, tone, and way we talk to our children sets up a reaction for them to respond. Before you say anything, do observations. Say what you see (so they can probably see it more clearly), For example say, “I notice you were writing with that pen on the wall, why did you do that?” Be curious. For example ask, “Why are you using the paper scissors on that fabric?” Interact and understand why. In many cases children are being creative or have something in mind they want to accomplish. I know it can be frustrating if they are messing up your nice wall or your make-up. But really children are not bad and they are exploring the world around them. That doesn't mean they get to do wherever they want. But having consequences like, take a break from scissors for a couple days or clean the wall themselves (as age appropriate) will make them think about what they did and be more conscious next time.
- Children count on us to keep it together (We are the adults)
- You don't allow others to dictate your self of being (Separate their behaviors from the situation)
- You don't always have to have a solution (Listen to them)
- We have to stop worrying and act. If we are not tough enough the children will take advantage of us.
Practice: (Do this in every situation of interaction with your child)
This is your golden card that you can have in your pocket always… if you follow these 3 steps you will communicate with your child in a successful way. It works. It has been working for me for years at school and at home.
Stop and breath
Make and Observation
Intentionally communicate with love
This takes patience and practice. This is a lot to ask, but we have to take responsibility for our children because YES this is hard. It is a process, and YES we may need to change our lives a little and set the environment for this to work. But it will be a real change for the future of our children. and it will be a big change in our interactions and relationships with them in the future.
The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.
Thích Nhất Hạnh, Living Buddha, Living Christ
And all of this is very important because studies confirm that YES these preschool years are crucial. The children are like sponges. Their neurons can make a lot of connections, and be very smart. But studies also confirm that a stressed brain won’t learn much. The way we communicate with children will give them tools to navigate the world, and connect with people. The way they communicate can take them anywhere and, if we understand children and validate their feelings, they will feel secure and loved. That love will give them a good foundation to be independent and believe in themselves. Then, they will BELIEVE AND RELAX. And, a relaxed and happy brain will learn and create, anything!!