When communicating with children it is important to keep your goals in mind. The younger the child, the more difficult it is to reason with a child. A very young child won’t be able to give you the reasoning for his actions.
“Why did you hit your brother?” you demand.
“Because I hit him?” your child may reply.
As your child grows older, his reason and reasoning skills begin to develop. You can converse with a twelve year old in a manner impossible five years previous.
So what are goals in parenting?
1. As a child, we’ll say between birth and twelve, you want to capture this child’s heart.
2. As a teenager, we’ll say between twelve and leaving home, you want to give your teenager understanding. You want to prepare them for life, marriage, childrearing, a job, handling money, building relationships, and so much more. Don’t leave that to the schools. You do it, parent. But this will be very difficult to do if you don’t capture your child’s heart in those younger years.
With these goals in mind, how do you communicate with your child? There are several methods and techniques to consider. A child understands three things. If you are able to do these three things, you will not only have a better chance of communicating what you want to your child, but you’ll have ample opportunity to win his or her heart.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR TIME
We’ve all heard that a child spells love, T – I – M – E. There is a lot of truth to this. Giving your child your time is one of the best communicative methods at your disposal.
A child understands attention. Give him equal attention for doing right as you do for when he does wrong. So many times we only show a child attention when they mess up and do wrong. But that is not wise. Praise them for doing right. Spend time with your child.
Children react to the time you give them. Both parents need to get involved if possible. This is a must. Too often, only the mother will give her time to a child while the father does not. I can trace many behavior problems to this issue. A loving father who spends time with his children, along with mom, will see a marked improvement in the behavior of his children.
A child emulates and role plays. This is how they understand life. If you spend time with your child, they will emulate and try to role play you. This is a great way to communicate with your children.
COMMUNICATE WITH CONSISTENCY
I just mentioned how a child loves to emulate and role play. They will do this instinctively with those that spend the most time with them. But as you do that, be consistent.
A child will quickly get confused if you aren’t predictable to him. He wants to be like you, but being like you is inconsistent. You don’t communicate with a child through inconsistent living.
All growing up, I never once heard my parents argue. This became a source of security in my young life. My parents were incredibly consistent in this and it did speak to me, it did give me peace. I never worried about what might happen when I got home. Home was always peaceful and fun.
Be consistent in your love and discipline. A child understands this. Communication with a child is more of being the right role model and example to emulate and duplicate. Their understanding and reasoning is insufficient to fully comprehend the whys and wherefores of all that you do. But at a young age, that isn’t important. You communicate by being the example.
I have four boys. I asked the oldest three what they want to be when they grow up. All of them said, “I want to be a Preacher.” That is what I am. I pastor a church. They may or may not grow up to become a pastor. That is between them and God. But at this age, that’s exactly what I aimed for. They want to emulate and role play their daddy. Through that avenue of a role model, I can convey what I believe, convey my morals and values to them.
But, being one thing at Church and another at home will destroy all of that. I must be consistent before them. This is essential!
COMMUNICATE WITH DISCIPLINE
There are many ways to discipline a child. But time consuming, consistent discipline is a necessary form of communication with a child. They need to know what is acceptable, what is not, what they can do, what they can’t do, what they should do, what they shouldn’t do, and so forth.
Discipline is your means of conveying that. Some parents either won’t or don’t discipline their child-or worse, are inconsistent with it, and never communicate the proper behaviors to their children. It is through loving discipline that a child learns right from wrong.
When I must discipline one of my children, I take time to do it. Yes, I talk about the rights and wrongs of his action. But I don’t expect him to fully understand. I just want him to have the knowledge so that later it may dawn on him. But at a young age, it is the discipline that communicates that they need to do things differently. For my wife and I, discipline is a process. We try to never discipline in anger, and we try to spend time with the child immediately after to let him know that all is forgiven. In fact, I try my best to get them to laugh.
YOU MUST EMPLOY ALL THREE FORMS OF COMMUNICATION
This is essential. If you only discipline, but never spend time with your child you will be sending the wrong message. If you spend time and discipline but are inconsistent, you’ll generate confusion and most likely that reveal itself in behavioral problems. If you spend consistent time with your child but never discipline them, you’ll probably see their moral compass get skewed in some way.
To communicate with your child, you need to employ all three forms of communication. This will reach your child’s heart and you’ll be able to communicate all the things you want to teach your child through the example you set.
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