What if the teacher misinterprets his nuances? What if some bigger kids bully him? What if he bullies some other kid? What if doesn't tell me if something bad happens?
As I was running through my list of concerns, I realized that aside from his physical safety, my other concerns really boiled down to one thing. Communication.
At the heart of my fears was how will he communicate with others? And how will others communicate with him?
We have all heard that kids can be cruel. But why are they cruel? Because they tell the truth? No! They are cruel because of the way they chose to communicate what others. Taunting, teasing, and snide comments can leave an lasting impression on children. It can shape their overall evaluation of their school experiences.
If we are really honest, some of us never outgrow the immature ways of communicating we relied so heavily on as children.
Aren't we supposed to mature and evolve into better communicators as we get older so we don't become adults who taunt, tease and make snide comments? In theory, yes! But how can that happen if we don't take a good look at what it means to be a good communicator and teach that to the children in our lives.
Here are some tips on how to raise good communicators
1. Model the behavior you want to see.
"Do as I say and not as I do" is not a philosophy that ever really worked. Children learn from what they see. You can tell them until the cows come home to be nice, respectful, etc. but unless you show them what that looks like AND explain why it is important, they aren't going to do it. Actions speak louder than words especially when the actions don't match the message the words convey.
Do you tell your kids to be patient and then easily lose your patience? Of course you. I do too. But I want to offer you a different perspective. I am not trying make you feel guilty about your mistakes. Lord, knows I hate when bloggers and articles seem to do that. I am trying to incite in the desire to be BRAVE enough to try another approach.
2. Show them the value of personal development even as kids!Don't be afraid to grow and learn with your child! If you and your child share a communication struggle, like listening, sit down together and come up with a plan to face it together.
Explain why it is important to learn how to listen. What does listening look like? What does listening mean? How will you reward each other when you show good listening skills ? How will you keep each other accountable when you show poor listening? Come up with a game plan and then do it...together.
This shows them that personal development is a part of being a mature responsible adult. It also shows them how to recognize good skills in others. They can begin to practice learning how to use good feedback skills too. (more on that in another post)
3. Celebrate who they are while molding them to be better.
The most common objection I get about communication skills training is that I am trying to change people into something they are not.
Not true! These skills don't change who you are, they make the original you better!
If you have a child who has a dominant personality. Great! Those are characteristics that should be celebrated and encouraged. If you have a child who is timid and sensitive. Great! Those are characteristics that should be celebrated and encouraged. Celebrate whatever personality traits your children have. This encourages them to have self respect. With a good sense of self-respect, they don't have to fall into the pressure of poor communication habits.
No matter your child's temperament, good communication skills is a must. A dominant child can benefit from learning to hear and respect other people's opinions. A timid sensitive child can benefit from learning to say what needs to be said.
Here is another source for communication tips for parents
It is our job as parents, educators, and influences of children to make sure kids not only know their ABC's but also how to properly communicate with others. It starts with us first.
What communication skills do you teach/practice with the children in your life?