09 Dec Communicate Effectively with Children
Communicating effectively with kids is often a challenge especially during their tantrum age. For healthcare providers and teachers especially, communication could be tough at first as they are strangers, and at times they could be seen as a threat. However if the ice managed to be broken, children would see them as trustworthy people. Gaining their trust is the first major step to establish a meaningful relationship, but how to do that? Here we list a few simple tips that can be incorporated.
First thing to note in mind, allow time for children to feel comfortable. Meeting new faces in an unfamiliar setting usually causes them to feel uneasy and scared. Let them know that you are there to help, not to cause harm. Speak at the position of the same eye level in a calm, confident and convincing voice. Let them see you as a friend. Warming up to people may take a longer time for some, but don’t give up. Prove that you mean no harm and always there to help. Avoid actions that would make children perceive as threatening, such as sudden advances or extended eye contact.
Secondly, communication with kids would not be effective if we use complicated vocabularies or long sentences, so make it short and sweet. Use simple words and short sentences to catch their attention. When issuing an instruction, use clear and specific words in the simplest manner. Repeat a few times if needed to ensure they fully understood the task. Same thing goes when giving feedback or suggestion; make it clear and specific, and use positive words rather than negative connotation. List their positive side first before addressing the negative ones to avoid giving them a bad vibe from the start.
For shy or withdrawn types, try to communicate through their parents or caregivers first and then through transition objects like dolls, puppets or stuffed animals. Start approaching by talking about things that are interesting to them. They are more likely to open up when adults show interest towards their favourite topics. Another important point is, no matter what their personalities are, establishing a trustworthy relationship means to encourage expression of concerns and fears. It also means to allow children to be honest. Provide opportunities for them to talk when parents are not around if appropriate.
Everybody is unique in their own ways. Owing to that fact, there is no single method that fits everyone. We have to try our best in picking the most appropriate ways to communicate. Collaborate with every party if you think it is tough and then find the best solution for the problem. It doesn’t hurt to ask the kids to give feedback on what you can improve either.