COMMUNICATION – PART 1 –
START AS YOU MEAN TO GO ON
What is communication?
The goal of communication is to understand others and to be understood by others.
Communication is a two way street.
Everyone talks about teenagers and communication –
Why don’t they talk to me?
How can I get them to open up to me?
Can I trust them?
What about communication with babies and toddlers? Teenagers learn how to communicate from day one, they learn from you.
It is never too early to think about communication and how important it is at any stage of development. We need to start communicating openly with our kids from day one.
This may sound basic and some of you may be ready to stop reading now but I cannot emphasise enough the importance of communication with your kids/teens. These tips will most likely be things you already know, but being reminded of them will help you to check in to see if your communication skills are working.
0 – 1 years of age;
Babies tend to communicate through eye contact, your touch and the sound of your voice.
Hold eye contact were possible.
Use your touch to show emotion.
Use your voice to communicate your feelings.
Your communication with them will install a sense of love and security – their basic need at this age.
2 -10 years of age;
Come down to their level (eye contact) when you are talking to them or when they are talking to you.
When they come to you to tell you something, show them you are interested in what they have to say by concentrating on them and listening to them.
If you are busy at the time, tell them you will talk to them in 10 minutes, at tea time (whatever suits you at the time) but you must come back to them.
If you do not come back to them and tend to push them away because you may be on the phone, on the computer, making dinner, chatting to a friend – over time they may stop trying. How would you feel if you had something really important to say to your parent and they showed no interest whatsoever? Would you go back again and agin to try to get them to be interested? Does it hurt your feelings? Does it make you feel valued?
Share stories about your childhood, good times and bad times – tell them how you managed mistakes, how you coped when you were upset, your experiences with friends (good and bad experiences).
By sharing these experiences you will show them it is ok to make mistakes, it is ok to be upset, it is ok to have a problem with a friend. It is how they deal with these issues that is important.
Make sure there is a time in your day that you know you can communicate with them (give them your undivided attention if only for 10 minutes)e.g.
bedtime * in the car * bath time * meal time – whatever suit your family.
(Years later your 16 year old may still rely on this time to talk to you)
Try not to use labels like ‘useless’, ‘hopeless’, ‘waste of space’ when talking to them or about them. This is hugely damaging to their self-esteem. You are the most important person in their lives – if they believe this is what you think of them, what will they think of themselves. Parents are only human, if you let a comment slip out and you know it was wrong/nasty/unnecessary – remember to say sorry. This is also a great lesson for your child – teach them the ability to take responsibility for their actions and be strong enough to say ‘sorry’.
Try not to swear or curse at them – they will most likely copy you – at the most inappropriate times!
Try not to make comments comparing them to their siblings or their peers.
Tell them you love them. We tend to presume they ‘know’ we love them. They do need regular reminding. Helping them to understand we may not like their actions or their words but we will always love them is a great lesson for later on during their teenage years.
Children need to feel loved, respected and valued if they are to grow into teenagers who feel loved, respected and valued. These feelings will build your child’s self-esteem and confidence and give them a strong sense of family, values and self into their teenage years.
Sometimes, they may learn more from your actions than your words. They will watch how you react in different situations, how you treat other family members, how you treat friends and presume this is the way it is supposed to be.
Communication is both words and actions.
You are your child’s number one teacher and role model.
“It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.”