Here are some awesome ways to improve communication with your little ones
Using statements that make them say more
These statements get your toddler saying more, they start sharing some ideas and may actually start sharing their feelings. Kids also communicate when they feel as though you are excited about what they have to say.
So here are some statements you can use:
- “I see.”
- “Tell me more.”
- “That’s so interesting.”
Be sure to look at them and focus too! Using the words alone won’t work.
Using more “dos” than “don’ts” and asking with a ‘please’
As parents we have a laundry list of things we know we don’t want done and so this leads us to make the dreaded mistake of reminding our kids daily of what must be done resulting in kids hearing more of what mustn’t be done rather than what must. This may result in children walking on egg shells and not having anything positive reinforce in them.
So here are some pointers:
- “Don’t walk around barefoot, it’s cold.” Can be replaced with, “Please put on your shoes. The floor is too cold to walk barefoot on.”
- “Stop hitting and being rude with each other,” should rather be, “Please play gently and be kinder with each other.”
- “Don’t make noise,” becomes, “Please be softer.”
Having conversations with your child, not at your child
As parents we are very guilty of forgetting that we are raising someone who will be an adult one day so we are part of the building blocks of how they will engage in conversations. So instead of giving instructions, having a two-sided conversation will give you so much more out. This is especially harder when you have a child who is not verbal or has a limited vocabulary, but maintaining a conversation nonetheless is important and helps them in future.
Allow your children to respond, express themselves, look them in the eyes and then use the statements in point 1 to allow them to feel as though you are present. Then try respond with a ‘do’ rather than a ‘don’t’
Remove them as the problem and replace it with “I”
As parents we tend to think the children are the problem. What if I told you, you created the problem? Yikes! So how about we use how we feel about the situation and what we’d like them to do rather than remind them that they are misdirecting their energy right now (which they quite frankly aren’t aware of).
This also gives your child a better idea of what’s expected of him and puts greater responsibility on him to change rather than reminding them of a bad behaviour they don’t know how to redirect.
So here are some great examples:
- “You’re being very rude right now” could rather be “I don’t like how you are responding to me right now. Please think about what you just said, let’s talk in 5 min.”
- “Your bedroom is disgusting and filthy” becomes “I need you to pick up your things and tidy your room. [this needs to go there… and that needs to go here…] – I’m going to give you a little time to sort it out.”
- “You are being a nuisance right now” becomes “I am so tired right now. Can we play later when I’m a little rested?”
No unkind words and labels
A lot of parent-child relationships have being tarnished by the use of unhelpful and unkind ways of communicating. Using shame, ridicule and name-calling to try get your point across will only result in scars and a child with a very low morale.
So it is important to for us to avoid using phrases like, “You’re acting like a two-year-old,” or “You’re embarrassing me,” or, “You’re being so full of nonsense.”
We make the mistake of thinking that these types of phrases and statements get the child to clean up their act quickly but kids carry this burden with them and start feeling dislike, like a burden and start viewing themselves as such.
Use kind words
Children who are appreciated, communicate better and open up more.
So here are some kind words you can start using in your home:
- “Thank you for helping me with the dishes today.”
- “You cleaned up your room well today.”
- “It really made me feel good when you helped me in the kitchen today.”
- “It was so lovely watching you play so well with your brothers today, you made me so proud.”
- “I love you.”
- “I enjoy having you as my son/daughter”
Show your child you accept them as an indivividual
We have a yearning to try marry the children we dream of and the children we have in front of us and we forget that they are growing to become their own person. There is nothing quite as blissful and freeing for not just you but for your child than them feeling accepted just as they are and not how you want her to be, everything changes – they tap into their own potential of being their personal best.
As your child grows all your child really needs to be a wholesome human is the affirmation that they are truly enough, this allows them the ability to feel good about themself. When your child feels good, they are to get along with other people. And they also feels safe to share their thoughts and feelings.
The opposite exists when we threaten, command or lecture our children, it makes them feel as though they are bad humans and that they aren’t like – just merely tolerated.
So next time your child says “I don’t like this thing on my plate,” and refuses to eat their vegetables and you respond, “Eat your vegetables. Why do you never eat? Why must it always be a struggle with you?” your child will be left feeling disconnected from you and believe that you think they are bad.
Instead, try a positive and persuasive method:
“I know you didn’t like your veggies yesterday but I made them differently today. Try them again, I think you may like them, if you don’t it’s okay, you can help me make them better for you tomorrow but you’ll have to eat them okay? Deal?” This makes them feel so much more empowered.
Remember that when we accept our children we aren’t accepting the bad behaviour but who they are as our children and embracing the positive without overshadowing it with the negative. When we communicate well in our homes, we raise amazing adults. And I’ll tell you now honestly, it is hard getting it right, it needs practise.
You will have to practice apologising, repairing your relationship with your child over and over and starting afresh but the rewards in the long term with be so worth it!
Children who are appreciated communicate better and open up more.