We spend an awful lot of time thinking about what our children need to do to get ahead in life from a young age and yet what we don’t often take into consideration is that there are also some disciplines that we could take on ourselves as educators and parents. Once again our behaviour is an example for our children and our children are constantly looking to us, their care givers for tools on how to process all the information in the world around them. Young humans have difficulty with communication in early childhood and words, sentences, tantrums and physical acting out can be a blur to them. It is important to understand how to talk to young children.
How to talk to young children: Here are some ways to talk to children so they listen
- First before you start telling your child what to do from the lofty heights of where you are standing, try squatting or kneeling down and talking to the child eye-to-eye. Try to connect easily and ask politely for the child’s attention. For example, “Jane, can I see your eyes for a minute?”
- Use your child’s name. You did give it to her and she likes to hear it.
- Don’t use long convoluted sentences or explanations. Try to put your directive into one sentence that is easy to understand. The more you ramble on the more likely it is that you will loose the child’s attention rapidly. If you do this the child can feel that one, your don’t really know what you want to say and two, that you can be manipulated and don’t mean what you say
- You can ask your child to repeat your request back to you and if he can not then it usually means that he did not understand.
- Try to stay positive instead of depreciating. In other words, instead of telling a child to stop running inside, tell her that we walk inside and run outside.
- Use some simple tools. For example “when… then”. Approach your child with a tedious task followed by something fun. “When you are finished brushing your teeth… then we can go outside and I’ll push you on the swing.” Another example is Legs first… Mouth second, and this one applies to you the parent, or care giver. Instead of shouting across the house “dinner time!” rather take a walk into the room where the child is and firmly declare dinner time, and then take a couple of minutes to help the child finish what she is doing.
- Give children choices. It empowers them. Let them choose between two things. Apple or banana, red shirt or yellow shirt, pajamas on first or brush teeth first.
- Teach your children manners. Even a two year old child can say please. Speak correctly without baby talk. Again this empowers a child as they feel like they are being treated like everyone else. Baby talk is condescending.
There are many more tools and ways to discipline parents and caregivers so that communication both ways works successfully. Try these ones out for now and see how it goes.