Talking down to a child, and not making them feel important is a common mistake parents tend to make. Understanding your child can be tricky, but bridging the communication gap is important. It is also crucial to let them know that their views and opinions truly matter to you. Being in their shoes, empathising with them, avoiding being sympathetic, and refraining from negative remarks helps foster better connections, say experts.
Building foundations through conversations
Speaking at ‘Get Set, Grow,’ the children’s wellness summit organised by Happiest Health in 2023, Manju Sharma, principal of Delhi Public School, Mysore, emphasized the need for effective communication in schools. Teachers have to make an effort to meet the individual needs of children.
When children embark on the journey of discovering, learning and growing, teachers must note how communication influences their lives, says Sharma.
“We use different types of communication — written, verbal and visual. But, there are times when there is a mismatch of ideas — maybe because of a misperception, an incorrect assumption, or something that gets lost in translation. Here, we must keep in mind that depending on their stage of life, our communication will vary greatly,” she stated. If only one knew how to communicate effectively with others of various ages, there wouldn’t be a generation gap.
How parents can communicate with children
The same challenge of effective communication with the young applies to family settings too. Parents’ expectations loom large on their children, whose actual achievements might not match up to the parents’ high expectations. This creates a low self-image and affects the self-esteem of the child, making them less confident. They might be silently battling loneliness, or feeling ignored or isolated, even in a crowded classroom, says Sharma.
“They tend to become more aloof, giving the impression that they prefer staying alone — however, do they even want to be left alone in the first place?” she adds.
Setting the tone right
When it comes to effective communication with children, there is no one right method. You have to scratch the surface to look for the underlying issues to understand what is actually troubling the child. Parents, teachers and friends should listen closely to children. They need to give proper care and attention while keeping an open room for the exchange of ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
For instance, if a child has a tough day at school, parents should strive to understand what went wrong and encourage them to share their feelings. According to her, a healthy and effective communication with children should include the following:
- Be empathetic
- Come down to their level and try and understand them
- Never be condescending
- Spend quality time with them
“Beginning the day with affirmations is a fantastic way to boost their confidence so that they start believing in themselves,” says Sharma.
Communicating with children in the classroom and beyond
Teachers need to adapt their teaching and communication styles to cater to children’s needs. To truly connect, teachers should practice voice modulation, which is a valuable tool in teaching. However, communication transcends classrooms — it extends to discussions, extracurricular activities, customized assignments and one-on-one interactions.
“Creating a happy, healthy, and non-judgmental environment instils confidence in the child so that they don’t feel unsafe, or underappreciated,” states Sharma.
She emphasized the importance of parents and teachers working together towards the progress of the children. As effective communication is a two-way street, she shares a few suggestions that can be implemented for effective communication between teachers, students, and parents:
- During parent-teacher meetings (PTM), the teacher must highlight the child’s strengths and address their areas for improvement, instead of only focusing on the negatives.
- As a teacher, it’s essential to approach students coming from single-parent households with extra care and sensitivity — and choose their words mindfully.
- In today’s diverse world, schools welcome children with special needs. In such cases, schools must allow parents to become shadow teachers until children feel safe. This reflects the commitment to nurturing every child’s potential and promoting inclusivity.
By embracing these principles, she suggests that it is possible to bridge gaps, unlock potential, and pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive educational future. After all, it’s in these conversations that the seeds of tomorrow’s success are sown.
- While raising their children, parents must effectively communicate with them about their problems.
- Make sure not to talk down to children; instead, treat them with respect.
- Avoid pity; instead, empathise with your child’s emotions and experiences.
- Teachers should modify their communication methods to fit the understanding of each student.
- Encourage the holistic development of children in school.
- Promote open dialogue between teachers, parents, and those around them.