Communicating well with your child is a big deal. It is a major tool to help you succeed as a parent. We often think about how important good communication is in professional relationships, in the everyday functions that make life workable, and in maintaining and developing a good marriage and friendships. But, do we really consider how important it is to communicate well with our child?
Good communication takes focus and work. The ability to communicate your intentions or wishes and to be understood is a difficult task. Do you sometimes find this true when attempting to communicate with adults? Trying to communicate well with your child takes you to another level of difficulty.
Why is this so? The reasons are myriad. Here are a few that come to mind. Your child’s vocabulary is not that of a mature adult, and you will need to use words they understand. Children have trouble understanding abstract terms, you need to use concrete or literal language. A child’s attention span cannot accommodate long, drawn out explanations, keep it short. I will give you some suggestions to think about later in this blog.
If you recognize the importance and difficulty of communicating with your child and consciously work at doing it well, you are on the way to developing a good relationship that will pay great dividends in the years ahead. Communicating well with your child will form the foundation and set the tone for the years ahead. Start early and watch how trust, mutual respect, and love grow through the years.
Let’s pause and remember what makes you a successful parent. In the first blog in this series I defined parenting success as, ” Successful parenting happens when you provide an environment where your child feels loved, safe, and is encouraged to become all God intended him/her to be.” https://cosdavis.com/want-to-be-a-successful-parent/
I believe communication is the key to making our relationships work as they should. God has given us the ability to communicate so we can share ideas and feelings with others. It is our way of transferring information. And, while there are many modes such as texts, phone, writing, speaking, facial, and body language do this, the goal of each mode or way is to convey information from one person or group to another. Communication is one of those gifts from God that can be used for good or evil. It simply serves the purpose of the one communicating.
Communicating is a big deal. Since this is undeniably true, here are some questions I want you to think about.
1.What is your goal in your communication with your child? What are you trying to accomplish?
2.What are the basic “life” messages you want him or her to understand through all the ways you communicate with them?
3. How do you want your child to think and feel about himself?
4. What kind of person do you want your child to grow to be?
Communication is a major tool for you to use to fashion your child’s character. Since this is true, you should be very intentional in the way you communicate with them. So decide what you want to do for your child through this wonderful gift God has given you.
Allow me to suggest a few goals you may want to consider. Use your communication to: encourage, gently correct, inspire, comfort, challenge, teach, show understanding and demonstrate compassion and forgiveness. There is not a negative idea on this list because negativity is not a part of good parenting or communication.
Here is the list I promised you earlier in this blog (Keeping promises is critical in all our relationships; doing so means we can be trusted.)
1. Communicating with intentionality. Use communication as a tool to help build your child’s sense of self. Be very conscious of how you want him to think about himself and use your words and other forms of communication to accomplish your objective. Ask yourself this question, “What do I want my child to think about himself?” Be intentional in your communication.
2. Communicating with integrity. Use your personal example to reinforce your communication. Your actions are a major way in which you communicate with your child. Having integrity between what you say and what you do sends the message to your child that he can trust your words. On the other hand, if your personal life is punctuated with a lack of integrity it will be difficult for your child to trust what you say.
3. Communicating with simplicity. Work to develop a way of communicating which recognizes your child’s level of understanding. He is not an adult and has trouble understanding adult words and complicated concepts. While he will grow in his ability to deal with deeper concepts and words with multiple meanings, his early years are limited to concrete and literal thinking. Bring your communication down to his level.
4. Communicating by shrinking. By this I mean for you to reduce your size with your child. You do this by getting down on your child’s eye level and talking face-to-face. This is much more comfortable and personal for your child and puts him more at ease in talking with you.
5. Communicating by heart-Listening. Cultivate the ability to listen with your heart. How do you do this? Try to put yourself in your child’s place. Remember some of your challenges in growing up and develop empathy for your child. What is it like to be small and unable use language well? What is it like to be unable to do so many things for yourself or understand the world you are in? Listening with your heart goes beyond hearing words to understanding feelings and concerns which motivate your child. Practicing heart-listening will reduce your frustration, deepen your appreciation and help you emotionally bond with your child.