Communication: The Road To Understanding…
SIBS Place - South Nassau Communities Hospital
We are born with instinct, genes and predispositions and, hopefully, our five senses.
Communication is a learned skill, motivated partially by instinct.
We first discover that communication can help us get the things we want: attention, food, etc. Along the way, we learn by example. Through modeling or instruction we are taught (or we figure out) what works to our best advantage. And although some forms of communication can be effective, they might not always be the best ways to achieve our goals. Finally, try though we might, it is possible that we won’t be understood as well as we had hoped, unless we gain some improved communication skills.
For instance, a child might constantly ask “do you love me?” but what is he really asking?
- Maybe for your time; He might not know how to initiate a dialogue or prolong a conversation.
- He may need some confirming words that he can hold onto like “to the sky and back again.” These can be your special words to share with each other. After using this term for a while you need only point to the sky in response to his question.
- Perhaps he needs reassurance because he is feeling rejected by a peer at school. You might ask him if there is anything he is worrying about and if things are alright with his siblings, friends and classmates.
- He might notice you in a pensive moment when your facial expression is serious. Because kids often think they affect everything in this world, he might interpret your expression as you being angry with him. Try to think of what you were doing immediately prior to the question. If you were distracted or deep in thought explain that to your child, and point to the sky, reminding him of your love.
She might say “you never buy me anything” when that might be far from the truth.
- She might be feeling that you favor her brother or sister at that moment, and if you can figure out why that might be, you can address it. If not, ask her for the proof.
- She might just be playing the guilt card and you can express that you understand her disappointment and in a caring way remind her of the reality of her statement.
He might say “I’m stupid” while he’s doing his homework because he thinks it is taking him too long.
- He might be frustrated or impatient with himself because he wants to get to the television or to play with a friend.
- He might realize that other kids do their work faster in class and he needs reassurance that he is capable of doing his work if he is patient with himself.
- Then again, he might trying to tell you that he is concerned about his ability and you can tell him that some children have difficulty with certain subjects and ask him if he feels he needs extra help.
Your child complains “I’m hungry” right after dinner
- A child might enjoy your presence, feel the comfort of dinner time and want it to continue.
- This may be an avoidance maneuver if she now has to do her homework or a chore. Take a moment to review her dinner menu and, if she still insists she is hungry, offer a healthy snack, like cucumber or carrots. Otherwise, just reassure her that the sooner she begins her work the more quickly it will get done.
- We often eat out of boredom. It is typically an unconscious motivation. Offer your child alternative activities that can re-direct and hold their attention. For example, some children might enjoy reading a book, playing a game, calling a friend, riding a bicycle or shooting hoops.
- Emotional eating is another trigger that needs to be controlled. If you suspect your child is an emotional eater, try to help her identify the feelings that she is feeding. It might be helpful to ask her how she is feeling as she is reaching for the cookies. Then suggest she write about the feelings in a journal or talk about them with someone she trusts, but don’t feed her. If you feel that you are unable to assist your child in breaking this pattern, seek professional support for further guidance.
“Joey doesn’t want to be my friend anymore.” What is he really looking for from you and how can your responses truly satisfy him?
- Am I a good enough friend? Do other children like me? Am I worthy? And though we can remind him that we don’t really know what Joey is thinking, we can explain that it is alright for Joey to have play dates with other friends. Joey can choose someone else first to be on his team and still want to be friends.
- We can remind him that there are many children to be friends with, and it may be a good idea to give others a chance. Perhaps he will be surprised, like when he plays an unwanted video game that turns out to be great!
Your child may or may not be aware of what he truly means when he makes these statements, but he would certainly benefit if he could feel he is being heard and understood. Our answers exemplify for children how to learn and listen to what others are really saying, as well. That often requires some time and thought on our part. Take a moment to think about what he is really saying or needs to hear from you. Don’t respond with a fast retort, but rather with a moment’s thought you will be able to demonstrate and express that you are listening to him and trying to understand his disappointment. Reflection and thoughtful re-confirming statements will go a long way in helping your child to feel valued.
If you do not meet with success through the above suggestions, you might consider the assistance of a mental health professional. Overall, the goal is that you develop new skills and gain confidence in your parenting abilities which can then lead to improved communication and foster a more meaningful parent/child relationship.
The information provided on this website including tips, testimonials and other data is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical counsel, diagnosis or treatment by a qualified physician.
If you are interested in learning more about SIBSPlace, please contact
Suzanne Kornblatt, LMSW, at (516) 374-3000.
“SIBSPlace…A Place Where A Child Matters Most!”
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