2016 May 15
Parenting with Joanne
Picture this scene; your two year old tugging at your clothes, from way down below, at the grocery store asking if he could add a fourth box of chocolates to the cart. You look down and say ‘no’ firmly but lovingly. Yet. His response; a loud cry followed by an angry squat on the floor, startles you. People stare and he continues to cry while firmly seated on the floor.
Communication is an important tool to any parent. However, making that communication effective is a skill that needs to be consciously practiced. Communication isn’t limited to spoken and written words. Your entire body communicates messages to your child at any given time of the day. Taking the time and effort to bend your knees and drop down to meet your child at eye level when speaking or listening to him, sends out more messages than you may realize. Let’s take a look at what that means to your young child.
- ‘I’m taking time to listen’
Getting down to meet your child at eye level, tells your child that you are taking a considerable amount of time to discuss the matter at hand. It may mean that you have to lose your turn at the cashier’s counter and step aside to a private area. However, be assured that you have just won an important place in your child’s heart by doing so.
- ‘I respect and value you’
Looking away, or not meeting a person’s eye when speaking is sometimes deliberately done in situations when we are upset or angry with a person. We’ve all experienced this at some point or the other, and to be at the receiving end of such treatment can be rather frustrating.
When you squat down to meet your child at eye level, you are telling your child that you respect and value him enough to hear his side of the story.
- ‘We are equals’
Having experienced the ever evolving role of teachers, I am more than convinced that children should never be made to feel inferior on account of being younger in a chronological sense.
Speaking down to your child while standing or bending low from waist down, shows him that he is somehow inferior to you. When you do this, you lose the confidence of your child and he may feel that acting out is a better way to get your attention. Instead, a parent who drops down to meet his child at eye level, communicates to him that they are both on the same page and that there is a chance at a fair discussion regarding the matter at hand
- ‘Your opinions matter’
By taking the time and the effort to communicate at eye level with your young child, you are telling him that his opinions are important enough to be heard. This does not mean that you agree or give in to your child’s request all the time. It only means that you are placing importance in what he has to communicate.
- ‘I love you’
Last, but never the least, this is one of the ways that you can tell your child that you love him, even when he is being difficult. When you choose to get down to meet your child at eye level to hug him, convey a message to him, discipline him and reason with him, he will understand that you love him the same at all times. Isn’t this a wonderful message to tell your child? And better yet, you don’t have to use words to convey it to him.
Try speaking and listening to your child by making the effort to meet him at eye level and watch how communication with your young child can be made much more effective. Many a times, all that’s needed to stop a tantrum is this effort, especially if your child is below the age of five.
Joanne Sathyadass has a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Journalism, Psychology and English Literature from the University of Bangalore now serving as a Special Needs Educator
For any queries please email Joanne on firstname.lastname@example.org