Here’s the scene of communication with your child: your three-year-old boy is bawling his eyes out. Hurriedly, you run over, and ask “What’s wrong?”. But no answer is spoken, the tears just keep coming out, and the vocal cords just keep on saying “waaaaaaah!”.
You start talking to him in that sweet and soft voice of yours to cajole him to tell you what his problem is. You really want him to calm down now. But when he’s asked questions like “Is something hurting you?” or “Are you hungry?” he doesn’t answer. He just keeps on crying.
Your sweet soft voice keeps on going, hoping to find that magic breakthrough to get him to stop crying. After a while, the frustration builds up within you. You just can’t get through to him. He’s just not saying anything. The smoke starts to build up in your ears. You want to help, but there’s this communication barrier now between you and your boy. So you persist, but still your boy ain’t budging from his bawling.
So now what are you going to do?
What you’re dealing with here is an issue of communication. Communication between people is a very complex process involving language, symbolism, nuances, non-verbal signals and so on. All the more so with young children. Because of their young age and lack of education, development and experience in communicating themselves, they can often have nearly-impossible-to-overcome barriers in trying to express themselves.
You probably wish to have the kind of home environment where:
not only your kids say what they think or feel but also. . . you can understand them all the time. You need to break down those barriers of communication that keep you from fulfilling your relationships with your kids. You can be a part of their lives in a very healthy and helpful way.
Would you believe that children who are actually good and well-meaning become “bad” children simply because they are frustrated over wanting to express a simple feeling or idea? Imagine this: They want or need something. But they cannot express it because they don’t know how.
So they do what they know. Like doing something around the house that’s not allowed -break a toy, scream, cry, pull their younger sibling’s hair, etc.
Do you (or any other parent) want such a thing in your home? Probably not.
You can find out for yourself that with a few steps, you can go a long way to overcoming some of these communication barriers. Develop routines and habits with your children during those times when all is going well, so that when the crisis does come, you are already prepared for it. It works the same way as preventive medicine. Work with the issue BEFORE it becomes a problem.
On your own you can try a few of these pointers. Have in your mind the goal that you want to achieve- a freely flowing communication with your children. You and your children should be able to talk to one another in a very calm expressive way using words, sentences, gestures, facial expressions and the like. (Note: This means that yelling and screaming in anger is NOT considered a healthy communication. It will often result in the listener reacting to the outburst in a unhealthy way. This is especially true for when parents yell at their children. )
Take upon yourself to try some of the following exercises, and see what the results are:
1) Show the child that you are ready to listen and pay full attention to what the child is saying. Let the child feel that there is someone who is going to try to listen to them. This will cut down on the degree of frustration for the child.
2) Encourage the child to talk in full sentences if possible. Sometimes children (who can actually talk properly) often just whine, cry, or say one-word expressions, simply because they are accustomed to doing so.
3) Prepare different options for the child to express himself- signs, objects, drawing, etc. You need to be creative here. Sometimes ideas can be expressed in the most unconventional ways- e. g. a child can create a scenario with toy figures.
4) Make sure you are able to repeat to the child what the child said to you. This is a crucial part of the process because for the child this is the guaranteed confirmation that you understood the child’s expression.
Story: Someone hit 6-year-old Sally. Sally comes home crying. Mommy keeps on asking Sally what happened, but for some reason she can’t say it in words. Mommy takes Sally by the hand and brings her over to the art table where there is some paper and some big fat kiddie markers ready for her. Sally sits down and starts drawing in her 5-year-old way the following picture: stick figures of a little girl and a little boy. The boy has his hand on the girl’s face. Mommy sees this and figures that the boy is hitting the girl in the face. She asks Sally if this is so. Sally nods. “AHA!” thinks Mommy. “now I understand. . . . . ”
Joseph Browns, a father and creator of the site http://www.home-educational-toys.com wants to share his experiences and expertise in how parents can find valuable opportunities for quality time with children to acquire priceless family memories. A total environment approach is taken, dealing with issues like educational toys, parent-child relationships, environmental + interior design, health, communication skills, and child education. For a picture of myself come see http://www.home-educational-toys.com/about-us.html