Wednesday, 4 January 2012
All you need to know about communication and kids...
Guest blog post for Vivien Sabel on communication and relationships
Dr Rosina McAlpine, Founding Director of Inspired Children, www.inspiredchildren.com
We are social beings and connecting with others is at the heart of living a successful, loving and happy life. Imagine what it would be like to not be understood, to not understand others and to have no deep bonds with special people in life. Being able to communicate effectively is a valuable skill for nurturing personal relationships with family and friends and for building professional relationships as well. So good communication skills and the ability to develop key relationships are extremely valuable life skills for any child to develop.
Vivien Sabel’s Blossom Method™ is all about communication. Vivien can help parents develop their own ability to understand and communicate with their baby from day 1. This helps a baby to communicate and connect with its parents providing a great foundation for learning and life. As children mature their vocabulary and their understanding of communication grows. However, as you well know in your own day-to-day activities – effective communication is not easy and having a good understanding of the complexity of social relationships is even more difficult.
Helping your children to develop strong communication skills and to be able to nurture relationships requires more than just trial and error and a simple understanding of the use of ‘manners’ and social ‘protocol’. Communication and social skills need to be continually practiced and developed over time. As is age appropriate, your child’s understanding and skills can become more sophisticated through continual modelling, interaction, experience and most importantly your prompts for reflection, your guidance and your child’s continual development through daily practice.
It is so heartbreaking for a parent to hear the words “I’ve got no friends, nobody wants to play with me” or “I’m sick of being bullied. I hate school”. Yet the reality is that these are daily life experiences for many children. Helping children understand the complexity of social relationships, manage conflict, knowing what it means to be a good friend and developing their communication skills will help them make and keep the right kind of friends and navigate life successfully.
Here are some ideas for how to support your child’s development. Help your child understand that:
• communication is about an exchange and so there are times when they need to listen and there are times when they can speak.
• relationships are complex and often people don’t actually say what they mean and their words don’t match their true feelings or thoughts. It’s helpful to give examples or to point out and reflect on real examples of the complexity of relationships and to invite your child to practice using more than just their ears when they communicate with others. For example, invite them to observe a person’s body language and to learn to trust their instincts when they feel a person is not being truthful with them.
• learning how to cooperate and work in a group as well as understanding when to lead and when to follow are valuable skills. Other social skills include understanding how to avoid unnecessary conflict and how to be a good negotiator.
• by identifying the qualities your children are looking for in a true friend - they are more likely to attract and nurture supportive friendships and avoid unhealthy relationships.
• feeling angry is a normal and natural part of life. Things can go wrong and people can get angry! However, some people take their anger out on others and this can destroy relationships. You can help your children manage and express their anger in a way that does not hurt others. For example, you can model or encourage your children to walk away from a situation when they feel angry and take time out to look at the situation calmly. Once they have some perspective they can discuss what has upset them with more clarity and less emotion.
Helping children develop effective communication skills is essential to help them attract and nurture personal and professional relationships and to live in a productive, harmonious and enjoyable lives.