Early Learning and Elementary Communication
Email Header
Full Image
Early Learning and Elementary November 2021
Talking with your child is a daily event. But  as busy parents it is often easier to keep the conversation with our children light. There’s a place for easy conversation but there are also those times when your child needs for you to tune in and listen more deeply.

The classic parenting book How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk has been in circulation for more than 30 years and has been called “the parenting bible” by many. Below is a summary of  some insights from the book that will support you in being the kind of parent your child wants to talk to. 
Culture and Communication
Culture affects how we perceive the world, how we behave, and how we communicate. To be able to function effectively in a multicultural society, one must have awareness of their own cultural values. These can be so deeply engrained in us that we are often unaware of them.
This can lead to  assumptions that whomever we are communicating with shares the same values as we do. Therefore we must be aware of cultural differences in how we communicate and develop sensitivity and flexibility in adjusting to various cultures. 
acknowledge Feelings
Acknowledge your child’s feelings. You want your kids to trust their emotions, so don’t give them a reason to doubt themselves. When your child expresses challenging emotions or misbehaves in some manner, try to figure out the underlying cause of their feelings. This includes those feelings we often think of as “negative,” such as anger, frustration and disappointment. 
Show them that you’re tuned in to how they feel with non-judgmental verbal cues: “I see that shoelace is giving you a hard time.” Give their feelings names “That stubborn shoelace is frustrating, isn’t it?"

Often, acknowledgement of their feelings is all the child needs to begin dealing with the problem at hand. Fully understanding and reflecting the child's feelings before delving into problem-solving can also prevent a child from shutting down emotionally.

Child's perspective
Try to see the situation through your child’s eyes. We often expect our children to understand adult-like ways of thinking and we don’t give consideration to how they might be viewing the situation.

For example, as you are leaving the house for a night out your child has an emotional meltdown in front of the babysitter. You could ask yourself, what is my child trying to say right now; is their behavior a plea for comfort, security, reassurance, or something else? When you can see that certain behaviors are connected to their needs, it is easier to be patient and find an  appropriate solution.
Focus on Behaviour
Avoid shaming your child. Over time, these instances of shame make the child feel like there is something wrong with them. If your response to your child’s misbehavior makes them feel bad about themselves, you’ve taken the focus off of their behaviour (which can be improved) and put it on something more complicated. A child doesn’t know how to correct being flawed but they can learn to correct behavior. Therefore a more effective approach is to focus on the behaviour.
For example, a child knocks over their milk at dinner rather than demeaning or mocking the child a parent could say “It’s okay it’s just a mistake. Please ask for others to pass items to you instead of reaching." This way the child's self worth is preserved and they have been given direction in a supportive and encouraging way. 
Praise Wisely
Kids need affirmation to build a healthy degree of self-esteem, but if overdone, they could end up feeling like the world owes them everything they want. 

 Be specific and descriptive when praising instead of “You’re a great artist!” try “I like how the zig-zags follow the squiggles — how did you think of that?”
Appreciate their work and effort, not their traits. This shows kids evidence of their own talents and lets them draw their own conclusions about what they might do with those talents rather than telling them who and what they are.
If you want to get your kids to open their minds and think more, ask them open-ended questions. These are questions that are not answered with a simple “yes” or “no” answer. This provides invitations to say more and to share their ideas and feelings. For example, instead of asking “Did you enjoy the birthday party today?” you could ask “What was the best part of the party today?” Respond to their ideas in a way that shows them you are interested in what they have to say and that it is important to you. 
One-On-One Time
Make time for one-on-one conversations.  This is especially important if there is quite an age gap between your children. Sometimes older siblings talk over the younger ones, and sometimes the younger ones prefer to let the older siblings do all the talking. Conversations with older siblings can sometimes be above the younger child’s level of understanding.  
Therefore, try to get some one-on-one time with your children at different times so you can talk at their level. It might be while walking to the park, reading a book together before bed, or driving to get ice cream. It doesn’t have to be structured time, but take advantage of opportunities for quality time as they arise.
Prioritize Conversation
Make conversation a priority with your children. Take the time and make the effort to foster your relationship and communication skills by talking with your kids as much as you can. Open and comfortable communication with your children develops confidence, self-esteem, good relationships with others, cooperation, and closeness with you. Remember that communication is a two-way street. Talk with them and listen to what they have to say; listening is just as important as talking.
Full Image
How to Get Your Kids to Listen and Engage
Full Image
What happens when we include our children in the conversations they have a stake in?
we want to hear from you!

Do you enjoy the monthly Snapshots? 
Do you have suggestions on how to improve the Snapshots?
Do you have ideas for future topics?

Let us know!
We would love to hear from you!

Sources and Resources

Read Previous Snapshots Here!
Full Image