Communication underlies all interpersonal relationships. What we think and feel is in a large part transmitted through what we say and emote which would imply that it is both verbal and non-verbal aspects with are critical to all communication. All these communications shape the way in which we form our relationships with the people who matter to us in our life. Being mindful of what and how we communicate becomes paramount in determining the nature of quality of the relationships we have.
As parents perhaps the most important relationship we create and nurture through our lives is that with our children. And communication most certainly forms an intricate part of the way the relationship shapes up over time.
Importance of Communication with Your Child
Children strongly rely on what communication reaches them from the significant adults in their life to shape their personality, temperament, behaviour, perceptions and interpretations. The emotional life of a child is largely governed by the impressions he forms and these impressions are primarily dependent upon the communications which reach him.
Communication allows for an adult to reach out to his child to share what is happening, not just in the objective world around him but also in the subjective world of his thoughts, feelings and experiences. This forms a critical bridge enabling the child to understand the process of how and why individuals do things the way they do or respond to situations in the way they do.
Children need to be guided in a continuous fashion to help them develop the skills that are crucial for life. This skill development process first starts at home and it is the parents’ ability to share through verbal and non-verbal methods their thought processes, expectations, needs, societal values and demands, that allows the child to be well adapted to the environment he is in.
The Do’s and Don’t’s of Communication
There is a method to all that we do and this finds its application to the communication that we have with our children as well. Keeping in mind some things is going to be crucial to how your relationship with your child develops with time.
· Be the right role model – The key to getting your child to do what you want is to model the right behaviour and this too is communication. If you do something and expect your child to ignore it and be different then that is not possible. Children learn through observation and would do what they see you do and say what they see you say.
· Be clear from the word go – You should be very clear about what you are thinking and feeling about a situation with your child. Communicating things involves you not being confused or in two minds about things. So if there is a dilemma resolve it before you speak with your child about it.
· Be explicit with your communication – Do not enter into conversations with your child feeling that he should or would understand it himself. You need to be explicit in what you are saying and try not to leave much to interpretation.
Clarity in your communication will always help shape your child’s behaviour and personality in the future.
· Be consistent – Consistency in what you say is a must. If you keep switching between varying stances it would only confuse your child and even at times lead to conflicts.
· If you have said something then stick to it – Do not retract what you have said to your child. That would make your child doubtful about what he heard from you and if this happens regularly then it would affect his overall personality as well.
· Don’t use emotions to sway your child – Emotions should be kept out of the conversations that you try to have with your child. Instead use logic and pragmatism to communicate which would help your child develop the ability to think through things and understand consequences of their actions.
· Listening in important – Being able to listen to what your child has to say is a skill that will bear significant dividends in the long run. If your child to feels heard it will always encourage him to hear you out as well.
· Be responsive to your child – Frequently children start acting out when they feel they are not being responded to. If your child is trying to communicate with you then do respond to him. In case you cannot respond to him then sharing the same with him is helpful for him to understand the reason for your lack of responsiveness.
· Help your child understand you cannot share everything with him – Children need to be made to understand over time that everything cannot be shared with them and that there are things which would be beyond their abilities to make sense of situations. Reinforcing this will always help your child.
The most important thing is to not shut down communication and to maintain consistency in your communication.