Written by Cara Barilla
Whether your child has an introverted, extroverted, communicative, placid, stubborn, eccentric or free-spirited personality, your child will always come across the stage of “selective hearing” and freedom of hearing. This stage ultimately defines how your child’s character wants to communicate, retaliate, respond and freely interact with their surroundings. Understanding your child’s behaviour traits can be a hard one, especially on how to interact and constantly gain attention from your little one.
Here are some ways to assist in your child’s developing needs of free speech, responses, mood management and understanding a parent’s ability to reach out verbally and get an opening ear in return:
Eye contact and connectedness: ensuring you and your child has a strong understanding on when to use eye contact or not is very powerful. This not only shows respect and a power for engagement, it translates to the child’s motor skills and attention span. Before you begin to talk to your child, ensure your child cannot be distracted by the television, toys or any device that they may turn to in times of “quick escape” out of a conversation that they feel they cannot contribute to for whatever reason.
Understand what the child’s needs are: each individual has different ways of showing their need; whether it’s vocal tone or volume, behaviour or passively. By understanding your child’s needs you should ask them and show them empathy and respect. This will translate into conscious signs of “safe zone” without any intimidation – your children can warm up to you, feel love and security thus listen to you more easily. Taking your initiative of being the “parent” can be weaved around to another angle to make your child feel confident and less scared without the “authoritarian” mode clicking on. Sometimes, this can lead to children responding naturally with retaliation or fear.
Reflect on what gains their attention: your child may be attracted to song as opposed to eye contact, or colourful visuals as opposed to the “parental” voice. Studies have shown if you converse with them in their “safe zone” – either singing them their favourite song or playing a “mini game” can weave them in their delegated task. Subliminal ways of order are not only powerful, but more light-hearted and fun!
Simplify: simplifying conversation highlights the points of importance to your children. When a parent gives a child a long sentence, they may become lost in the words and miss the point and principle of the conversation. Keep the topic short, powerful and clear to create more successful points of understanding.
Never repeat your message: when the parent asks or tells their little one to do something, it should only be said once. If it gets repeated over and over, the sentence loses importance. Ensure you gain eye contact with your child and maintain engagement with your child at all times. This will give your child the message that this conversation has value.
Create structure: delegate your child tiny responsibilities from a very young age. From feeding the fish once a day or teaching them how to set the alarm clock, following and repeating these steps each day will strengthen your child’s ability to listen, attention span, manners and self-sufficiency.
Create routine: when a child has routine in their life, they are more prone to understand the value of structure, listening and understanding duty. Routine strengthens developmental stages, prevents unpredictable behaviour and assists in patience, responsibility and the principle of time management.
Overall, the importance of the connection between parent and child is vital. Having your child to understand, trust, respect and care for your words on a deeper level, will positively contribute to their all-rounded development. If you feel like your child is not connecting with you on a verbal level, it’s best to speak to a professional to identify what the core causes are for your child’s behaviour. Your local GP can give you a referral to a family specialist, psychologist and behaviour therapist.