ABC by Paley – COMMUNICATION
We learn patterns of communication with other people from an early age. Therefore, it would seem that everyone can do it. However, our experience shows something else – in everyday communication, some things often don’t work and something goes wrong. We say one thing, the other person hears something else, and there is a misunderstanding, frustration and conflict.
Even people who consciously and intensively work to communicate with others sometimes make mistakes. In addition, even if we apply all the best practices and have the best intentions, there will still be someone who will look for a hidden agenda in our speech or think that we are attacking him. We are responsible for our emotions, behavior, and for the content we want to convey to our interlocutors. Unfortunately, we are never sure how they will receive our message and how it will affect them – it remains their responsibility.
For many of us, communicating more effectively requires mastering several important skills, the acquisition of which will deepen our connection with others and increase our chances of mutual understanding, trust and respect.
When communicating with other people, we often focus on what we need to say, and not necessarily what the other person wants to say. This happens even more often when talking to a child than when talking to adults. As a result, we listen only to respond and express our opinion, not to really hear and understand our interlocutor. However, effective communication works both ways and involves not only speaking but also listening carefully. Good listening means not only understanding the words or information conveyed, but also understanding the emotions that the interlocutor is experiencing and feeling. This skill is extremely useful for children and people with strong emotions because then the ability to express yourself clearly decreases.
There is a big difference between the engaged listening and simply listening. When you really listen, you are able to hear subtle intonation changes in someone’s voice that tell you how that person is feeling and what emotions they are trying to convey. By listening with commitment you will not only understand the other person better, but also make them feel heard and understood, which can help build a stronger, deeper connection between you two.
By communicating in this way, you will also experience a process that reduces stress and promotes physical and emotional well-being. If you are agitated and talking to someone close to you who is calm, their commitment and willingness to understand what you want to convey can help you calm down. Similarly, if your child is upset, you can help them calm down by being calm and accepting their experiences. Thanks to this, your child will feel understood and safe, and their still developing brain will start sending signals to the body to calm down. In this way, by gaining support from adults, children learn to regulate their emotions.
If you are talking to your child and you want them to take into account what you are saying, then focus fully on them during the conversation. You can’t listen with commitment if you are constantly checking your phone’s notifications or thinking about your plans for the evening. Focus on the ongoing conversation to catch information and important non-verbal cues in the conversation. Try to put judgement and criticism aside. Also, refrain from giving advice, unless your child asks you to do so. To communicate effectively with someone, you don’t have to agree with their ideas, values, or opinions. The idea is to try to see the matter from the perspective of the person you are talking to. When you refrain from blaming and criticizing, you make room for each other to hear and share what is most important to each side.
The most difficult conversations, when successfully completed, can often lead to a deep connection with someone. Being open to different opinions or values is especially important when a child becomes a teenager. In order not to exacerbate existing conflicts and not to break relationships, it is worth activating curiosity to see what really is behind the unpleasant message we hear from a teenager. Behind the harshest words still hides our beloved child, who, despite being so repulsive, needs parental support and love.
So, you often hear from parents that the child is not listening at all. But does that mean that he can’t hear or doesn’t want to obey all commands? And do parents really listen to their child? The best way for children to listen is to show them that we too are listening carefully to what they are saying to us and what they want to convey to us. This does not mean that we have to agree with everything. This means that we take into account what the children say and that they and their concerns are important to us.
Through difficult behaviors, the child lets us know that he is not coping with something and that some of his needs are not satisfied. This is sometimes difficult to see at first glance. By rebuking a child and calling them to order in such situations, we will not ensure long-term success for ourselves and the child. Perhaps the child will calm down temporarily, but his unmet needs will continue to be unsatisfied, and thus, sooner or later further misunderstandings and conflicts will arise.
The sooner parents start listening to and talking to their child, the better the chances that effective communication will become natural to them. Listening to the child’s pains is extremely important for proper development, even if, from the adult’s perspective, the child talks about trivial and insignificant things. If we listen to young children tell us about their issues, then when they are bigger they will come to us with bigger, more adult issues, because they will know that they can count on us. Listen carefully, without distractions, and don’t deny the emotions that arise. They will eventually pass, you just have to give them time. Don’t assume you know better. It is obvious that you have more experience in life, but you will never know for sure what the other person is going through, even the smallest one. And if you absolutely want to say something, instead of any advice, share your experience, tell them how it worked out for you in a similar situation.
Pay attention to how you are feeling when you talk to your child. Is something annoying you? Maybe you feel tense or anxious? Your body will let you know if you are stressed while communicating – the hallmark symptoms are tense muscles, shallow breathing, and a feeling of heat. Take a moment to calm down before deciding to continue or postpone the conversation. When you feel that you are losing your patience, take a break. Go to another room, to the balcony, get some air. A moment to calm down and distance yourself from the heated situation will allow you to be clear-headed and not say words that you will regret later.
Pause to collect your thoughts. Silence gives you a chance to think things over, to deepen the conversation – you have to think for a moment, and not throw out what comes to mind first. Contrary to appearances, silence is something dynamic, you can convey a lot with it.
Many misunderstandings occur in medical-related situations. During the healing process, your child will experience various emotions and difficulties. Be on his side – take his experience into account. Harsh words, crying, anger – these are all important information about what is happening to the child and what his unmet needs are. Perhaps he is afraid? Maybe he is tired of constant hospital stays? Perhaps he craves a life like his peers – with after-school meetings and interesting activities. Don’t deny his emotions. Let him talk even if the content you hear is difficult and painful. Remember that the child talks about himself and what he finds difficult. By interpreting his words as an attack on yourself, you will close yourself to the possibility of communicating with him and, as a result, effective support.
Being able to express your thoughts, feelings and needs clearly and openly is an amazing resource. If you teach your child to communicate in this way, it will be easier for them to maintain their limits outside of their home. And although at times such an assertive child is a big challenge for parents, it is worth looking at it from a long-term perspective. If a child can say NO at home, communicates his opinion openly, and at the same time takes into account the boundaries and well-being of other people, it will be easier for him to take care of himself when you are not around. It will not have to learn this, because thanks to you it will set off into the world equipped with such skills. It will be ready to build communication bridges instead of walls.