Our words weave the magic with our children. We, as parents have the ability to encourage and inspire our children. We also have the ability to discourage and degrade our children, all with the magic of our words.
Words we use to communicate with one another are like knife. In the hands of a skilled surgeon, a knife can bring about beauty and restore life. However, in the hands of a careless or ignorant person, a knife can destroy everything. Are we playing the role of a skilled surgeon to our kids; who uses words to cut out the negativity? Or are we playing the ignorant parent who wounds and hurts with words? Take a moment to reflect on this.
Do you remember the last time your kid asked you for something? Could have been your time, your attention, help with a problem? And you snapped asking your kid to deal with it, as you were stressed! Or you, still in the work mode, wagged the finger at your kid saying something along the lines of "Can't you see I'm talking, don't interrupt". Sounds familiar? Did you see the dejection in your kid’s eyes while she turned away and resigned to a corner of the room? You would agree it happens to the best of us.
Why is the right communication important?
Language is one of the most powerful tools available to us parents because it has the power to change, influence and transform the lives of our children. Raising children can be both a positive challenge and a stressful experience. It can be very draining at times because it requires our constant attention, time, resources and energy, especially during the kid’s growing years.
More than 300 years ago, Isaac Newton laid down his third law of motion: "For every action there is an equal and
This law can be applied to the principles of communication. If we give off positive vibes through our
communication, we do receive positive vibes as well. Similarly, if we give off negative vibes through our
communication, we receive negative vibes.
Kids can sense the underlying emotion and message of any communication, and they follow the Newton's third law
religiously. They react with the same emotions. So they can't be blamed for any negative reaction.
You must have noticed that sometime kids easily agree to what we say but some other times they don't. Why does
In the first case, we unconsciously use some effective communication techniques, and in the second case we do
just the opposite.
We can choose to be in harmony with the kids by learning to effectively communicate with children through our
body language, our tone and the words we use.
Positive communication and body language are vital when dealing with kids of any age. During the growing years and sometimes much after that as well, children look up to their parents as role models. They carefully observe their parent’s words, mannerisms, and body language and pick them up consciously or unconsciously. They also learn to express emotions through the tone of voice, when we speak to them.
Here is what research says about the components of communication:
- body language comprises 45%
- voice tone comprises 19%
- words comprise 36%
Our children "read" our body language and respond to it first. If our shoulders are hunched, brows are furrowed and lips are turned down, they “read" that and enter into the interaction defensively. If, on the other hand, our shoulders are relaxed, our brow is smooth and our lips upturned, they will be more responsive and open to words.
How does communication affect children?
You can be your child’s best friend or his greatest enemy all with what you say and how you say it. Positive words of encouragement and appreciation go a long way in feeling needed, loved and understood. These feelings help nurture a child’s self-esteem, and give him the confidence to face the world. Words of abuse, verbal violence on the other hand can completely close down a child and get him seeking attention from other people in other ways, which could be detrimental to the child.
Here are few pointers to keep in mind while communicating with your child:
- Do not use those words with your child that you do not want your child to pick up.
- Use the right words while disciplining your child. Term the behavior as “bad or unacceptable” and not your child.
- Do not label your child as “spoilt”, “good for nothing” or any of those phrases that slip out of our mouths too often.
- They might believe in those labels and change their behavior to make it come true.
- Use positive phrases even in negative situations. Instead of saying, "try" say "do your best". Instead of saying, "do not forget" say "please remember”. Instead of saying, "you’re no good" say "you can do better".
- Do not embarrass your child in front of others. This will only lead to resentment and hostility, not good communication.
- Always let your child know that you are interested and involved and that you will there for your child, whatever the situation might be.
- Let your child know that you accept him as she is, even if you do not accept her behavior. This will ensure that your child does not close down communication with you altogether.
- Listen patiently. Don’t interrupt your child when she is trying to tell his story. Be as courteous to your child as you
- would be to your best friend.
- If you are very angry about a behavior or an incident, do not communicate till you have calmed down and can tackle the situation in an unbiased manner.
You can add many more experiences to this list above that have worked for you and your friends and put them into practice. Let’s pledge to weave love and life into our kids with the thread of positive communication. There is nothing on this earth as precious as a child. Each one is totally unique and our future lies in their hands.