Communicating effectively with children can be tedious if not done properly. This applies to children of all ages since you can encounter language barriers with toddlers as well as misunderstandings and a battle of wills with older children. While these are unavoidable to a large extent, it is possible to reduce their occurrences and to communicate effectively.
Effectively communicating with children makes it possible for both parties to know each other better, to learn from each other and to trust each other. These are the most basic benefits of effectively communicating as there are lots more with both psychological and physical benefits.
Problems are better solved when they are properly articulated. This is emotional literacy that can be learned through communicating effectively as early as possible. In other to achieve this, here are some practical tips to apply when communicating with children.
Tips for Effectively Communicating with Children
- Be assertive- Avoid taking on either an aggressive or passive stance when communicating. You are both people with minds and feelings so acknowledging each other is important.
- Be available- Let the child know that you want to hear from them beyond your daily to do. Make them feel important by prioritizing them and genuinely caring for and listening to them.
- Talk about yourself- Try to talk about your own self, tell them about your day, admit mistakes you made, highlight your wins (big or small) and how you felt going through them. Aside seeing you as human this tip may also be an opener. For instance, if the child made a mistake, they may bring it up and if they had a win they thought unimportant they may be more open to sharing.
- Listen- Listening is a skill that must be learned and applied especially when communicating with children. Listening to what they are saying allows you respond appropriately. Do not cut them short and ask questions if the situation is not quite clear. Do not be in a hurry to respond to every detail otherwise you might miss the actual big thing.
- Maintain eye contact- You pay attention better when you maintain eye contact and the child feels listened to. Turn off the television, turn your phone face down and look at the child. Angle your body towards them, and watch them. Watch their gestures and intonations, this is how you note what details are most important. You can knee to eye level when communicating with younger children.
- Respond properly- You should not to flare up or allow yourself to be riled by whatever is being communicated. Imagine a child got in a fight, rather than go off on them the moment you set eyes on them ask them questions that would reveal the cause of the fight. This way you know how to respond properly.
- Set boundaries- Clear set boundaries mean that if the child is in the wrong they would bear the consequence. This is where correcting them with love comes in. You must be able to call them out if they are in the wrong, make them apologize or punish them when the need arises. Letting them get away with wrong doings is not effective communication. Say no when you must.
- Advice- Try offering useful advice and solutions to problems. Children are children, no matter how grown they seem they will always need your guidance. So try to guide them as well as possible. A great way to ensure effective communication is to get them involved in the process of coming up with solutions and to see how the advice being given is the best one.