Have a preschooler at home? Having a sane conversation with them is almost next to impossible. And not to forget there are many moments which come up while talking. You may have really challenging ones to amusing ones and to the ones where there are a lot of questions and exclamation marks on their little cute faces.
Whether you have a troublesome two or a terrible three, a friendly four or a know it all five (phew…), talking with them can be joyous, happy and sometimes very hard. These children are still developing the art of communicating verbally. By doing this they try to figure out how a conversation flows back and forth, thus occupying their mind.
We as parents have high expectations from our little tots and expect them to take many commands from our end. Parents often think in the future but children don’t do this. They think in the moment and live in the moment. (In a way good, that they are not yet bothered about their future).
I often tell my daughter 2-3 things at a time, like – go to the washroom, where your shoes, wash your hands properly and before going out don’t forget to carry your water sipper. See, what I am trying to say is – so many instructions in one go. The poor girl is bound to skip at least one out of these. The fact is that parents, especially mothers tend to think a minimum of three things at a time and they expect that their little one understands all 3. But for children, this is a little difficult as they have trouble in sequencing the information.
Children of this age need short, crisp and direct conversation which they can easily process with an apt result. This helps them to understand their parents better thereby, making lives easier for themselves and their parents 🙂
Here are 7 tips on how to communicate effectively with your preschooler:
- Stoop down to their level: By this, I don’t mean to give in to their tantrums. Sitting or kneeling down physically to their level while talking to them is actually helpful. This helps to create an eye contact between the parent and the child and assures the child that the parent is there with them. This gains their attention in a positive manner rather than blurting out some odd instructions when standing over them.
- Help them to differentiate their feelings and emotions: Children between the age group 2-5 years start to figure out emotions like anger, joy, fear, and frustration. It is important that a parent should help them name these emotions as it helps the child to understand. Differentiating these feelings forms an important aspect of communication.
- Don’t hurry them: Parents these days are very busy, while, on the other hand, children like to move slowly. Doing your daily chores may take an additional half an hour with your preschooler. When children see parents occupied with many things at a time they start wondering if the parent will be there for them. Thus it is necessary to stop … breathe in … avoid doing many tasks at a time. Enjoy the world with them at a slower pace 😉
- Offer choices but limited: Giving choices to children is very important. It gives them a sense of control and independence in certain situations. Trust me they feel elated. Agreed giving choices is good, but limit these to a minimum of 2 so that the situation does not get out of control and moves at a steady pace.
- Give them full attention: It’s not that children need their parents’ attention 24*7 or 100%. It’s just that when they are talking and a parent is distracted, it is hard for them to digest this fact. When a child talks and realizes that her parents are with her physically but not mentally, she feels the parent is not with her. It is perfectly fine to be busy with your work, but when a child talks just give your full attention and they will love you for the same.
- Be a listener: When children communicate they need assurance that their parents are listening and not busy elsewhere. When a child talks, try to make gestures, smiles, and nods along with saying “hmm” or “Oh”. These help a child to communicate well and also enhances their listening skills. Also, the child feels respected and that his conversation has been heard.
- Be a role model: When parents exhibit good manners by saying thank you, sorry and please genuinely throughout the day, they set an example for their children to follow. Children are like a sponge, who keep observing, watching and absorbing your behavior all the time. So be careful, if you are feeling angry, vent out your feelings in the bathroom behind a closed door where your child cannot see 🙂
These are just a few things I incorporated into my life while talking to my “know it all 5-year-old” and things are better (not every time, but yes most of the time).
Also, do watch this video on effective communication skills for parents and teachers of preschoolers: