Communication is a two-way interaction, it does not imply dictating to your kids. Communicating ineffectively may have deep psychological impact on your child, which manifests later in the form of aggression and disobedience. Communication throws some serious challenges towards parents. Some parents follow authoritarian parenting strategy that inhibits the child’s voice whereas others are too lenient because of which kids don’t learn. A balance of both is required is required for effective, responsible parenting. This is not really tough. You simply need to become more aware of the way you speak to your toddler. Below are a few common communication errors and how you can avoid them:
Top 10 communication mistakes that parents make
- Lecturing: Does your child starts playing or fiddling with things when you are talking with him? It happens because you have been blabbering to your child for too long. The attention span of young children is very short. Speak concisely; use short sentences containing 3-4 words. Do not go on and on that sounds like you have been talking forever. This causes information overload. Give them breaks, allow them time to understand. Repeat what you explained but without getting irritated
- Comparing: We frequently compare our children with others, especially with their siblings to motivate them. However, it rather conveys the message that one child is worth more than the other. It creates a feeling of resentment between them. Praise them for their good work and support them when they are weak. Remember, every child is unique and every child has different talents and e=weaknesses.
- Interrupting: Cutting in before the child has finished speaking may make the child feel insulted and unimportant. It forms a barrier in a parent-child relationship. Allow your child to explain himself. Do not finish off for him and neither should you put words in his mouth. When the child speaks uninterrupted, he builds trust in you. Such children tend to be more obedient when they grow up
- Labeling: Calling a child ‘dumb’ or ‘selfish’ negatively impacts his mental health. The kids realise that there is something wrong with them and they are not good enough. It lowers their self-esteem. Humiliation creates a lot of negativity within them. Instead of labeling the child, label the behaviour as unacceptable. The concerned behaviour should be despised, not the child
- Nagging and threatening: We often indulge in having our way with the children by threatening them. Giving repeated warnings about consequences if they fail to obey has two outcomes. Firstly, the child will gradually ignore those warnings since you only say and do nothing. Secondly, the negative tone may inculcate fear in the children making them resentful and aggressive towards you. Give clear, brief instructions conveying your expectations and the consequence for not complying. Act if you mention it
- Criticizing: Chiding the ideas, feelings or the kid himself negatively impacts his self-esteem. This lowered self-worth can lead to unconfident, overly dependent kids. They become emotionally insecure and reluctant to voice their ideas with you. Point out the unacceptable behaviour of the child rather than the child himself
- Shouting: Frustration and stress can cause you to shout on your young ones. This not only creates negative energy but also makes your child anxious. The child feels intimidated by a tall figure shouting on him. Such children often feel unloved and rejected. Do not raise your voice on your toddler, rather talk firmly. Kneel/sit at the level of your toddler’s height, maintain eye contact and explain again using simple words
- Not listening: Multitasking suits you, but your child may feel that the things important to him are not important to you. Your toddler needs your active attention while communicating. Maintain eye contact and show empathy by smiling or touching their shoulders. Your child gets the desired attention and connects emotionally with you
- Inappropriate body language: Your toddler’s vocabulary is scanty and he is learning to form sentences. Don’t show impatient body language such as tapping of feet, sighing or checking time. Don’t correct their grammar or complete sentences. This impatience may lead to lowered self esteem. Give them time. These small cues may encourage your child to express his feelings
- Being insensitive: When your child expresses his feelings to you, he expects you to support him. Your child is sensitive about petty things. For instance, if your child lost a ball he adored instead of simply brushing him off saying you will get another one, try to understand his feelings. Empathise with the child, say comforting words like, ‘I understand you are sad on loosing the ball.I am sorry dear!.” Show that you understand your child, otherwise he will feel alone and misunderstood
Children need to be heard and trust you with their feelings and thoughts. It is the very base for “connecting” with your child. The way you communicate with others in the presence of your toddler is also detrimental. After all children imitate their parents.