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Tips for Communicating with Children
Communicating with children can be like cooking. If you don't put the recipe together just right, then you aren't going to get the results you desire. However, with the right mixture and some patience, everyone can be happy! Here are some tips to help you succeed in improving communication skills with your students.
- Give them your undivided attention. Trying to have a conversation with more than one person at a time means you are not giving your best effort to communicate. This can make the child feel unimportant.
- Don't rush the conversation. Let them talk at their own pace. Rushing them means you feel you have something more important to do. Don't underestimate the importance of what they have to say!
- Get on their level. No one really likes to be talked down to and children are no different. By getting on their level, you make the situation less intimidating and the child is more likely to be open to communicating.
- Listen. Even if you don't agree with what they say, they should feel free to voice their thoughts and feelings. If you ask them a question, then give them time to answer it in their own way. You would be amazed at what you can learn from a child just by listening to them.
- Empathize. The only difference between a child's feelings and your own is that sometimes their emotions are bigger than they are. It's important that they know they are not alone in the feelings they are having.
- Keep it simple. They are just children. Talk to them so that they can understand you, but do not talk to them as if they are unintelligent. Use simple words. Make you intentions and expectations perfectly clear. It's not fair to have expectations they know nothing about.
- Reassure them. Everything is big to a child. That can often be overwhelming. They need to be reassured that they are safe and thats "it's OK". It's your job to put this in terms they can understand and accept. Simply telling them "It's OK", isn't always enough. Tell them why it's going to be alright and let them know what to expect.
- Pay attention. Watch the child's body language and listen to what they say. Often children don't know how to express themselves so they may act out or withdraw. Read these signs and be prepared to deal with them.
- Create safe areas. These can be called "Time Out" areas or whatever you wish to call them. Children have very limited control over their world. A place where they can be alone with their thoughts is an important element to have.
Don't forget what it was like to be a child. They don't always have the vocabulary or the means to express themselves. Practice patience and understanding. It's much easier for them to improve their communication skills if they can see you improving communication skills as well.