Speaking to a child is no child’s play. With our lives becoming increasingly busy and mechanical, we don’t seem to have time for the little things anymore – and this means that our children are suffering because we can’t communicate with them. In this article, we tell you how you could talk to kids and build strong connections with them.
Have you ever wondered how children and grandparents have their own secret language, as if they’ve known each other forever? Do you feel like you’re not communicating with your children as well as you should? Well, if you do, you’re certainly not in the minority. More and more parents in this busy world feel like they’re not getting through to their kids, and that they’re connecting with them.
Here are a few things you can try to communicate better with your children.
1. Allow for your child’s short attention spans
Children generally have shorter attention spans than adults. When you talk to your kids, therefore, allow for this fact. Don’t assume that your kid will be able to have long, meaningful conversations about just one thing straight off the bat. Allocate a time to spend with your kids during the day when they’re the least distracted. After dinner, just before bed is often a good time for this.
2. Let your child drive the conversation
Because children’s minds flit about from one place to another quickly, the best thing to do as an adult is to let him or her drive conversation. Don’t be too finicky about what you want to talk about; instead, participate enthusiastically in their fantasies, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. And when they change tack, keep up with them. Over time, this will allow the child to trust you, allowing you to guide the conversations as you go along.
3. Pay attention to your ‘voice’
Our speaking voice, if it is too monotonous, can bore a child. You can ask for feedback from your spouse or other adults as to whether your tone hits just one key at a time. When speaking to a child, be expressive, and keep changing the volume and pitch of your voice to express your emotions more openly. This will not only hold the child’s interest because he is constantly surprised by the change in your voice and pitch, but he will also interact with you with more interest because he feels that you’re enjoying his company.
4. Plan an activity together
Have a routine with your kid that has to be stuck with no matter what, at a certain time every day. This could be a bedtime story, a period of singing together, playing an instrument, scrawling on whitepaper with crayons etc. Anything that builds a sense of togetherness in the child is fair game here, but make sure it becomes a routine, and that both of you look forward to it.
5. Listen to your child
Listening is a skill that many of us unfortunately don’t possess. When it comes to talking to a child, the temptation to speak will be strong. Resist it, and make a habit of active listening where you’re making eye contact with the child when he’s speaking. This will also instil the habit in him, and drive home the point that good communication is as much about listening as it is about speaking.