Communication is tough in every situation, relationship, and setting. Having great communication skills is what helps relationships really thrive. Any misunderstanding, misinterpretation, or lack of acknowledgment can really negatively affect an individual and/or a relationship. I’ve never had to pay so much attention to how I personally communicate until now, as a mom. I want to teach my children the importance of communication and teach them how to master their communication skills, including the ones I’ve shared below.
Code-switching is commonly known for people switching between languages, but here, it applies to switching the dialect used. For example; doctors use a specific “language” filled with medical terminology when they speak amongst their peers. With patients, they speak in “layman’s terms,” in a way that is simple, using everyday terminology like “chest” instead of “thoracic” or “across” instead of “transverse.”
Speaking to someone who is learning English, we do not speak to them like we speak to fluent English speakers. We slow down, use simple sentences. We could do the same when speaking to our children, especially our young children 3 and under because it’s meeting them where they are.
Lesson: It’s important to be more conscious of where people are in their communication level, knowledge, experience, etc. This will make them feel understood and respected, and will, therefore, strengthen the relationship.
- You can teach your child code-switching by pointing out how they need to respond or what words they need to use with different individuals. Point out the differences so they can learn how to tell them apart. Or ask them to point them out to you later on.
Listening is a huge part of communication and one that is usually underperformed because we are caught up in our own thoughts, in a rush, or doing something else. I’ve noticed that as a mom, I’ve actually become worse at listening because I’m so tired and am unable to give my full attention. Regardless, I need to actively listen to my children so I can be an example for them.
Lesson: It’s not just important to actively listen. It’s also important to understand what type of listening our speaker wants as well as let our listeners know what kind of listening we want from them.
- Try telling your child what kind of listening you are asking from them:
- Could you please listen to and then follow through with these instructions?
- Could you please look at me and pay attention to what I am saying?
- Could you please hear out my opinion or suggestion?
- Could you please let me know what you understood from what I just said?
- For younger children, it’s a lot of showing them, and bending down/crouching to their level and looking them in the eye when talking or listening. So try to slow down, stay calm, and speak to them in a more loving way.
- Show them how to actively listen by repeating what they just told you, ask them a question, or tell them to just wait until you finish xyz (something quick like sending a text) so you can give them your full attention.
Use your words
Many times, we don’t know how to use our words to express a thought or a feeling, or we let our emotions block us from being able to express what we want. However, if we are able to express how we feel, then we have more of an impact on the possible outcome. There’s a reason we say “talk it out.” As a mom, this is my biggest challenge because I have to really think about how I should express myself to teach my children how to express themselves. Super tough when you’re fuming!
Lesson: It’s to teach children how to express their emotions in the moment to help them with their communication, which will help me help them in a healthy way.
- Pay closer attention to what you’re feeling and why, and tell them in layman’s terms (i.e. “I am upset because I am not being heard and need time to be alone to calm down.”)
- When they are upset, acknowledge their reaction and point out why they may be crying (i.e. “I see you are crying. Seems like you are sad your mom left. May I give you a hug to help you feel better?” or “It seems like you’re being loud because you’re upset. Are you upset or frustrated because you’re not getting xyz? How about you help me with abc and then we’ll try again with xyz when we come back or we can wait here and watch.”)
This is Part 2 in my Life Lessons series. Read Part 1 on Finances here.