As parents, we create a home environment which supplies our children with the raw materials from which they can construct a Champion Mindset. Part of this mindset involves developing highly effective communication skills, which most experts agree will be their most valuable asset in the world of the 21st century.
We are our children’s role models for effective communication. How we communicate is of crucial importance for their language development and for the development of their world view.
The key to effective communication is that as parents, we must keep the channels of communication open between ourselves and our children. This means we need to talk to them, every day and about everything.
The main benefits of open channels of communication are:
- Enhancing attachment and bonding between parents and their children
- Developing your child’s sense of belonging and their self-esteem
- Increasing your child’s emotional intelligence and resilience
- Being able to inspire and guide our children especially during times when they are under pressure
What is the best way to communicate with pre-school children?
At MindChamps, we have developed four ‘golden rules of communication’. Over the next few weeks, we will discuss these golden rules in detail through our series of ‘Communicating with Your Pre-schooler’ articles.
Golden Rule Number One: Be Aware of your Pre-schooler’s ‘Processing Limitations’
Pre-school children have not yet developed the strategies to cope with complexity and stress as well as adults. The pre-frontal cortex of their brain is still developing, and they are far more likely to respond with their ‘unthinking’ emotions than with their logical faculties when challenges arise.
Controlling the Situation
As the adult, you must be the one to control emotional situations, and avoid creating unnecessary frustration. Inspiration is about empowering the young person to achieve and you can do this only if you are communicating effectively – and without misunderstanding.
To enable and encourage your children to face their challenges successfully, you need to communicate with them in ways that are emotionally intelligent. This means that you are sensitive to their emotions and have the capacity to control your own emotions. It is particularly important for a parent to respond with emotional intelligence in potentially ‘emotional’ situations such as when your child has misbehaved or is in the middle of a squabble with a sibling.
Typically when a child has misbehaved, a parent may seek to quickly find out the truth of the situation. We may ask a number of questions one after the other. Asking two questions in quick succession, such as “What are you doing with that?” and “Why did you get it out of my cupboard?” will more likely cause a young child to ‘short circuit’ – both cognitively and emotionally.
If you are lucky, your child may be able to answer one of the above questions, but more likely they will ‘freeze’ or stutter as they start to formulate an answer to the first question, only to have the thought process interrupted by the second.
As adults, we have the ‘parallel-processing circuitry’ to be able to handle both questions simultaneously and then order our responses. It is a necessary skill for a complex and fast-moving world, which we have developed through years of practice and experience. Young children have not yet developed this capacity.
So the golden rule when asking your child questions is to ask one at a time. And once you have asked that one question, count to three in your mind to give your pre-schooler time to answer. Using this method will reduce the stress in communication, especially in emotional situations.
This article is a modified excerpt from the book Pre-school Parenting Secrets – Talking with the Sky. Get the book here.