Understanding the child's emotional level can help present thoughts in a way that works.
The same adults who have no problem doling out chores to children might find themselves tongue-tied when it comes to sharing thoughts and feelings with them. Children take things literally and develop emotionally at different rates. In addition, the attention span of a child is often shorter than the typical attention span of an adult. To communicate your thoughts and feelings to kids, get a grasp on what the children are able to process and then share thoughts with them on their level and in short sound bites.
1Let the child know how his actions or words make you feel. Children do not typically have a concept of how their behaviors affect adults. Instead of making "you" statements to the children, stick with "I" statements to keep the focus on how you are feeling and what you are thinking.
2Use positive messages. Telling children they failed to listen and they made you angry is not as effective as telling them how their actions affected you. For example, children who take their seat belts off in the car can be told how it feels. "I am scared I may have to press hard on the brakes and you will be thrown forward and hurt and I will be sad," is an example of using "I" statements. It keeps the focus on how the behavior affects you and what your thoughts are about the behavior.
3Find a quiet place. A quiet place to communicate thoughts helps children concentrate on the words. If the TV is blaring, the dogs are barking and people are knocking at the door, children will be too distracted to absorb what you are saying.
4Keep it simple. Children need to know you are in charge and even while sharing thoughts and feelings, you will be the adult and they are safe. Kneel or sit down so you are eye to eye and explain your thoughts in simple, short terms. Let the child ask questions and express a response.
5Ask the child to paraphrase. Once you have shared your thoughts with your child in simple, short sound bites, ask her to repeat back to you what you said. Children might misunderstand the meaning of your words, which can cause anxiety and fear. Ensure that the child can repeat back what she thought you meant and clear up any misconceptions right there.
- Maintain eye contact. It reinforces when the sharing has begun and when it
- Don't overwhelm children with details that are beyond their maturity level.