In today’s society, being a parent requires us to wear many hats. Firstly, we provide basic necessities like food, shelter, clothing and medical care. Secondly, we give our love, attention, time and support to our children. As parents, we also have to take on the role of the disciplinarian as we impose rules, set limits, discipline, establish and follow through with consequences, hold our children accountable for their behaviour and teach values.
In the past, meeting the needs of our children was easier as we can rely on older family members, such as grandparents, to look after our children. This, however, has changed in recent years and parents today have to depend less on older members of the family to care for the younger generation due to the fact many of them are still in the workforce and, due to a lack of space in modern homes, do not stay together under one roof.
Parents who fall in the age range of 30 to 35, also referred to as the ‘sandwich generation’, may feel more stress than any other age group. They find themselves trying to care for their children and their aging parents while juggling a career at the same time. The multiple roles we play as parents may take a toll on the quality of the time we devote to our children.
Difference between quality and quantity of communication
You may have heard that you should spend a lot of time conversing with your children. While this is undoubtedly beneficial, the way you interact with your child is also a contributing factor to how well he or she develops.
Research has shown that the best way to communicate effectively with your child is by connecting with them and paying attention to what they are interested in. This motivates children to stay in the interaction for a longer time and by doing so, this provides them with more opportunities to learn.
Communication is a two-way street: How to talk to my child according to his age and needs
When communicating with babies, the focus should be on building an emotional connection and building up their knowledge of the world around them. Some tips that will allow us to communicate more effectively with babies include responding to their gestures, sounds and expressions; recognising and respecting their reactions and feelings; and talking to them and paying attention to the sounds they make.
With toddlers, we should encourage their curiosity and let them learn things about themselves. Self-discovery is key for children at this age.
When conversing with preschoolers, you should understand and embrace their early signs of independence, and you should also be prepared to answer their first “adult” questions.
It is important to children in the primary school age that you see them as mature individuals and that they are respected.
In their teenage years, children start to value their privacy more and it is important during this stage that you show your trust in them and actively engage them in conversations.
What it means to really listen – Quick overview of active listening and how that helps in your parent-child communication
Active listening is the basis of good communication as it allows you to discover what needs and feelings are hidden behind what the child is saying.
Next time you speak with your child, try to use the following techniques:
- Try to empathize and refrain from making judgments. Instead of hastily jumping in with advice of your own, let your child speak and listen to them.
- Encourage your child to open up to you: use phrases like “tell me about it…”, “did you really do that…?”, “that’s interesting…” etc.
- Use your body language to let them know you are listening; sit in front of them, focus your attention on them and control your facial expressions.
Effective communication, whether it is between an adult and a child or just adults, is a two-way street. For your child to listen to you when you have something to say, you will need to do the same when they speak. Mutual respect and understanding are vital in keeping communication channels open between you and your child. This will not only improve the relationship between the two of you but will also prove effective in imparting important social skills to him/her.
Ultimately, it is important to remember that children should feel relaxed enough in their own homes to speak freely about their feelings and thoughts, as well as to express their opinions. Therefore, effective communication between parents and child is key to raising a well-rounded individual who is intelligent, confident and positive.
For more information on resources and training on how to talk to your child effectively, please contact us.