10 tips for respectful and sensitive communication with your child

Communicating with young children requires patience, empathy and some valuable skills to make it as positive as possible.

I offer 10 suggestions for respectful and sensitive communication with your child.

1. Speak like a grown-up - clearly and simply. When a baby is born, speaking baby language is natural and even necessary. The smaller the baby, the softer and more subtle the tone of voice for an adult, but make sure that as the baby grows, so does your communication style.

2. Use short sentences, words that are easy to understand and understand. A child's language develops from simpler concepts to more complex and sophisticated ones. Try to explain things briefly and in "easy language". Make sure that the chain of cause and effect you are trying to explain is as short as possible.

3. Offer choices. A child can and should say "no", but everything has its limits! Reduce the forms of prohibition as much as possible. Replace them with what you can do or offer choices.

4. Give time to understand and respond. A young child's brain processes distortion more slowly than an adult brain. Give it time, take a break and you will find that your child responds to you. Don't stop if you think your child is speaking too slowly. He needs time to formulate!

5. Support and encourage. Strengthen your child in what he or she is good at, don't compare by saying your brother or neighbour was better at something at that age. We are different, children develop differently.

6. Fit in 14 words. Especially in emotionally charged moments, stop your urge to moralise and lecture. A child has a shorter attention span than an adult. After 14 words, he can't hear you!

7. Respect your child's boundaries. Like adults, children sometimes need to get more comfortable in an environment to start a conversation. Sometimes they may be busy with their own activities. Don't interrupt and don't force the child to communicate. Encourage and support them.

8. Observe non-verbal communication. I have heard the advice not to react to your child's signals, especially when they start talking, to motivate them to use words. But all people convey most information without words. Parents can name what they observe to their child. The child needs to feel noticed and heard!

9. Be the focus. Of course, you have to apply this to your everyday situation, but try to give your child your full attention for the 30 seconds or 1 minute when they have something to ask you or you have something to tell them/ask them. Remember - one eye level, touch, emotional presence.

10. Speak directly, using words in their literal meanings. By the age of 10/11, concrete thinking dominates in children. This means that they do not perceive sarcasm and irony. Its use puts children in awkward and difficult situations. Eventually, the child may avoid telling you about their experiences. Do not ridicule or condemn a child if they take your implied instructions literally.

Communication and language development is one of the 10 topics in the Child Emotional Education (CEA) course. If you want to gain more confidence and peace of mind as a parent, sign up for the course starting in January.

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