two guiding principles when responding to a child
Communicating with children can take more intentionality than you realize. Recently while on the playground, I encountered a moment where I learned about how to better respond to a child. I would like to share it with you:
A dinosaur statue stands in the middle of our school’s playground. One of our little dinosaur experts goes to this spot every day in the class. One day, instead of playing around with the statue, he decided to climb the statue. In no time at all, he scaled to the top. He was so excited and exclaimed, look, I did it, I can ride the dinosaur! His entire face was glowing!
At that moment, ‘Barry’ thought he was a hero. As his teacher, I recognized this as a potential danger. I turned to Barry and said, ‘get down now; you could be hurt.’ Barry was surprised by my response, and I watched the joy and excitement drain from his face. He quietly climbed down and began to cry.
My words were still floating in the air, and at that moment, I realized that I could never pull my words back. I asked myself, is there a better way to address my concern? Is this the right moment? Did I miss something more precious?
Since that time, I have learned this vital lesson. When a child comes to you with excitement and joy written on their face, be sure to guard your tongue – pause, observe, respond. Read the child’s face, the glow of the eyes, and the width of the smile. If we fail our kids in their moments of discovery, we potentially lose more than the moment. When communicating with children does not go the way we would hope, this often results in losing the child’s sense of security and trust in knowing they can share life with us.
Age appropriate communication strategies
Consider these two guiding principles for how to communicate with young children:
- Guard your tongue – pause, observe, respond.
- Learn to adjust your response, being aware of the unintended messages and long term results.
This happening is a small moment but a big lesson. Try to build a strong relationship with your child so that your child has no reason to doubt you. Does your child know that no matter how fearful life becomes, you are there to love, accept, help, and guide?
A relationship built upon trust begins from small moments which affect the child’s long-term communication skills. Adults who value communication skills for kids help support children as they grow into their own voices. When your child invites you to enter their sense of excitement – enjoy that moment with them!