Home > Parenting Tips > Preschooler and Science

Q & A on the Talk “Communicating effectively with your child”

By WINGS Counselling Centre
On the 22nd March 08, Sarada Kindergarten, in collaboration with the TAPAS organized a talk on “Communicating effectively with your child” for the parents.
The talk was conducted by Ms Suhrita Gupta and the Questions and Answers were managed by Ms Hema Gurnani from WINGS Counselling Centre.
The aim of the talk was to provide a platform for the parents to develop relevant skills /approaches on effective communication with young child /children.
As trainers, we believe that when parents use age appropriate methodologies in communicating with children it makes a difference that impacts the disciplining of the child / children.
The process becomes more rewarding and the approaches become more effective when applied consistently to enforce the acceptable or desired discipline / behaviour in young children.
During the formative years of a child’s life, if parents adopt faulty methods to discipline or communicate with young children, children tend to learn faulty methods of thinking, which can continue to affect their behaviours and attitudes when they become teenagers.
Hence we recommend all parents to be equipped with relevant skills so as to make the journey of parenting rewarding, meaningful, enjoyable and successful.
Below are the questions that parents asked.
School related:
Q1. My child picks up words such as ‘stupid’ or ‘shut up’ from other students in school. How can I prevent him from using such words both in and out of school?
·        In such situation, it is advisable for parents to have a small talk with the child on a one-to-one basis. If your aim is to get your child to stop using inappropriate words, your approach is equally important. Scolding or extreme punishments usually do not work well with young children.
·        What can you do? Firstly bear in mind the age of the child, because long discussions will not serve any purpose. When you have the attention of your child, in very short and simple language you can make your child understand the meaning of those “inappropriate words”. Explain to him/her that how he/she will feel if someone else uses such words on him/her or someone who he/she loves. After this, do not pay too much attention to this issue. Soon you will see that the child has stopped using those words because he/she wants to respect your explanation and have understood how it impacts others’ feelings.
·        It is very normal for young children to pick up certain ‘words’ that their classmates or a teacher uses in class/school. Very often children like to role-model / imitate their peers/ teachers. What parents need to realize is that you cannot control the environmental influences the child is exposed, but as parents YOU have the power to empower and steer your child’s values systems because the child spends most of his/her time with the family. Help your child to become a strong individual who is able to distinguish right attitudes/behaviours from wrong ones and to resist peer-pressure from a very young age.
Q 2. My child is very reserved. He does not mingle easily with anyone else. How can I teach my child to interact well with others and to become more social?
·        Some children by nature tend to be quieter (introverted) than other children. This could be due to a personality trait. It seems that quieter children talk, smile or even interact less. However, this does not necessarily mean that they are unhappy children.
·        Socialization is a vital aspect of the child development process where child/children learn to interact appropriately with his/her peers. (Is this necessary?)
·        Usually children coming from a nuclear family, or if he/she is the only child in the family, he/she may seem quieter when compared with children from a joint family with more people to interact.
·        The good news is that even the quieter children learn to interact well, once they start schooling. So give your child some more time (if he/she has just started schooling) and observe his progress.
·        What you can do to hasten the process: Take your child more frequently to the playground. Introduce him/her to the play ground friends. Allow him to play on his own, instead of you standing next to him and telling him/her what to do. Teaching young children how to make friends. (HOW? teach him/her how to introduce himself/herself …e.g.: hi! my name is Krishna, what is your name?) Read to your child simple stories about the importance of having good friends. Also never forget to teach children appropriate behaviours with friends (e.g.: smile/shake hands and not to push or pinch) Try and explain young children how to socialize in different situations(e.g.: home/school/playground/friends/party)
Q 3. How should I react when my child starts bullying other children?
·        You can start off by talking about how bullying impacts others and the consequences of bullying. (Be mindful of the age of the child)
·        Ask him/her how he would feel if someone would bully him/her.(evoke subjective feelings)
·        Re-look at the situation differently. Ask yourself! Is anyone bullying your child at Home (retrospect)
·        Why? Because…..some adults / parents out of love tend to tease young children. This is where children adopt the understanding that teasing/bullying is an okay behaviour.
Q 4. How do I react when my child reacts negatively?
·        When young children react negatively (by saying NO! to everything you say) you may want to change your approach of disciplining or communicating. (e.g.: go and bathe, come to eat, go to sleep now!)  
·        Young children need very simple and clear guide lines that need to be consistent with both parents. When disciplining children this is an area where both parents need to take a united stand to agree on disciplining methods and time-out methods.
·        Be understanding of your child’s age appropriate needs (after a long school day he maybe tired) allow him to rest before you expect him to do his home work.
·        Be kind to young children BUT be firm and say NO to unnecessary demands of your child. It is also important to rationalize your ‘NO’ with a simple explanation. This explanation will allow your child to understand the reasons of your NO.
·        If parents practice this simple consistent method, children soon learn to comply.
Q 5. Is it okay for me to scare my children into listening to me when they don’t listen to me when I ask them politely? (E.g.: If you don’t listen to me I will send you to boarding school.)
·        Scaring any child is not a healthy way of disciplining. It is no use making empty threats that you may never carry out. Soon your child will learn that her parents will never act on the threats made.
·        If such methods are used by parents, chances are that the child will simply continue disobeying because he/she has become immune to your threats. This is an ineffective way of disciplining.
Q 6. My daughter loves to read but refuses to do her homework. She also doesn’t like doing maths.
·        When we talk about young children and study related issue of school work, one needs to understand the age of the child. Example: How much homework does she get? Do you give additional work? Is your child able to handle such pressures / expectations? Once you understand your child and her capabilities I am sure you will be able differentiate what is expected of a child of that age-group.
·        Most young children love to hear stories from their teachers/parents. When children are able to read on their own they enjoy reading on their own. This is a good sign so try and encourage your daughter to read as much as she can. Reading not only broadens children’s imagination but also improves their expressive language abilities and writing skills.
·        Very few children are lucky to be good in all subjects and skills. If your daughter is not too interested in Maths, find innovative ways to teach. Inject fun to teach Maths. (e.g.: try teaching addition by count the crayons. Subtractions by putting the crayons back into the box)  
·        Do not overload your daughter with too much written work. When any child is mentally tired there is no point forcing him/her to study. The process will be futile, counter-productive, and frustrating for you and the child.
·        Possibility? Maybe your child is having a genuine problem with maths. Monitor her studies and observe any improvement. If the situation has not improved talk to her teachers in school to find out more about her difficult areas of work.
·        Maths is a skill based subject. With regular practice of 30 minutes per day will definitely help. Please make it a fun process, not a drilling exercise.
Home related issues:
Q 7. When we say ‘let’s do it together’, our children expect us to join them in everything, even if it is a task that we have previously already done together. What is your suggestion?
·        Be specific and clear of your instructions. (e.g.: how many times (3 times) you will assist them. (e.g. homework/ cleaning their room)
·        After the third time, you can be supportive by supervising rather than helping. You can sit with your child when he is doing his homework. Gradually allow him to do on his own. If the job is well-done reward him with encouraging words because you want him to continue this good behaviour.
·        After supporting the children for many times and if they still refuses to do it on their own - DO NOT HELP, let them face the consequences. Being firm does not mean being harsh… tough love helps in the long run when it comes to disciplining children.
Q 8. My child likes mimicking her teacher’s actions and postures. She even pretends to be her younger sibling’s teacher when she is at home.
·        It is very common for kindergarten children to imitate their friends / teachers. Similarly it is common for children to imitate their parents when in school because children like to pretend to be like their teacher/mother/father/friend etc. 
·        In my view, this is not something that you as a parent should be overtly concerned. Rather observe you child when she is mimicking in a non-threatening way. This will give an idea what is happening in the classroom or how she is relating to her teachers/friends at school.
Q 9. My child always bargains with me, and we always give in to his demands. How do I start to lay down rules? Is it too late? Will he obey me as I have always been very soft with him .Usually if he doesn’t listen to me, I’ll just let him do things his own way.
·        You have answered your own question……….We always give in to his demands! When parents fail to set firm boundaries children very soon pick ways to get things done their way. Use a different approach!
·        Disciplining and setting boundaries are very important areas of foundation in young children. Decide what values/norms are important in your family then start being firm with areas that need more attention.
·        Do not panic… it is not late to undo this process as your child is still in kindergarten. Follow simple rules like: Be clear, be firm and be consistent in standing firm with your reasonable expectations. Rewards and punishments are good way to encourage good and acceptable behaviour.
·        Have similar family rules that apply to all children. Avoid being unfair towards any one child be it younger or older. Lastly be simple and clear when communicating your message.
Q 10. How do I talk to my child when he shows tantrums?
·        Take into consideration the age of the child. If a 5 year old throws tantrum every time you ask him to bathe, then there might be a small problem that needs to be tackled.
·        When young children throw up tantrums it would be advisable for parents to identify the triggers of the tantrums. (e.g.: is it every day/once in a while)
·        Be gentle but firm-do when you are correcting the behaviour. Do not blame, ignore, threaten or withhold love also do not fall prey to his tantrums. Children are smarter……he must have learnt that he can get his way out by throwing a tantrum.
·        Set appropriate boundaries and age appropriate punishments methods if he disobeys (e.g. you can’t watch your favourite show today because I did not like how you behaved at the shopping mall.)
Q 11. My son starts the day with the phrase.’ I want to go shopping/eat pizza’. If we say’ let’s go later or let’s brush your teeth / take a bath’ he starts crying.
I am not too sure the age of your child, so my answer will be more generic that can apply to kindergarten children.
Disciplining is about teaching children acceptable norms of behaviour patterns. If you want to teach your child, regular habits (brushing/bathing) then you should encourage the same routine everyday. Only then will children understand what he is expected to do every morning when he wakes up.
If your have (unknowingly) given in to him whenever he had cried (past) ……he is trying to push his luck and you are getting really frustrated because your tolerance level is becoming very low.
·        Try setting age appropriate rules he can understand and follow.
·        Use age appropriate communication to explain the importance of these habits.
·        Be specific when you say ‘Later’ (Does he understand “later” mean……never!) Children interpret words differently, so be specific……….later as today, tomorrow, weekend)
·        Communication is the only weapon for effective disciplining, so specify what he is expected to do everyday.
·        Teach to your child acceptable / not acceptable (what is okay and not okay) behaviour by parents.
·        Tell stories about good eating habits/why children must have a bath / go to school.
·        Be gentle but firm, and consistent in your disciplining. DO NOT give in when he starts to cry, rather if he follows the instructions without you reminding praise his good behaviour.
Q 12. How do you communicate with a child that cries for everything little thing. (E.g. I wanted to cut her hair, but she is very attached to her long hair. Even though I explained to her that because she is young, shorter hair would be easier and neater, she insists on having long hair.)
·        Crying is also a form of communication many children use to get away with what they want… and many parents become victims to such situations.
·        Maybe your girl really likes having long hair, how about exploring with her why she loves long hair. Your explanation of being young, too long hair, easier, neater obviously does not sound reasonable to your daughter. How about explaining to her about the hot weather, how she has to depend on the mother to wash/brush the hair.
·        Options: Since she loves to have long hair, how about negotiating a medium length hair. That way you both are winners. This will go a long way in teaching her to be more independent, responsible in managing her hair.
·        When addressing such sensitive issues of children try and understand the Childs feelings.
Q 13. Our child does not eat properly. Also complains a lot when given milk to drink. How do I coax her to eat properly?
·        You are not alone in the battle front as many parents experience their children’s poor eating or milk drinking habits.
·        Maybe your child is milk intolerant, have a word with your family doctor. There are many tonics that enhance eating/drinking habits of young children.
·        If your child is milk tolerant, try flavored milks like Milo.
·        Make meal times enjoyable-not a battle field………forcing does not help.
·        Identify food your child enjoys, and then slowly introduce new items in small proportions. (e.g. if your child likes rice and yogurt, introduce a small amount of veggies mashed into the rice) Yogurt is a form of milk product. How about a cheese sandwich?
·        Some parents find it useful to use a reward system. Eg: If you drink your milk every morning before going to school, I will take you for swimming on Saturday. Please keep up with such promise.
Q14. Both our sons are fighting with each other. How do I effectively communicate, and teach them to behave properly.
·        Obviously there seems to be some level of sibling rivalry amongst your two sons. This usually happens when one child (usually the older child) views that the parents are spending more time or favouring the younger child more than the older child. The jealousy comes in when children feel neglected, unloved, unwanted. This negative energy at times can be converted to hatred so parents need to understand that they need to manage such issues very sensitively.
·        Scolding, threatening is not a good form of communication when sibling rivalry is prominent. Age of the child is very important when communicating to the child who is feeling neglected. Use simple explanation to find out why he is feeling this way.  Establish a good relationship and try spending one to one time with your older son who is screaming for your attention. Get him involved in doing things for the younger one……… (e.g.: Can you help me to take care of your younger brother while I have my tea.) Chances are…. Your son will want to try and please you and soon the hatred will change into a loving and caring attitude towards the younger brother. What is most important is the way parents handle sibling rivalry.
·        If the children are a bit older, let them settle their fights amongst themselves. Parents should not interfere unless there is a danger to the child/children. If parent interferes in their children’s disagreements/fights, the child who is feeling neglected will seen the interference of the parent(s) as favouritism that could further aggravate the sibling rivalry issue.
Q 15. When my children fight, I try and correct their behaviour, one of them; especially the older one will always complain that I always take the side of the younger one. (Please read the answer 14 to get an insight to sibling rivalry)
·        BE FAIR. Assess the needs of both children. You are doing a good job as a parent to correct the behaviour. What is more important is the parents approach when correcting the behaviour. When correcting inappropriate behaviour, clearly explain the behaviour of your child that you did not like (act) and do not blame the child. Else he would think that you do not like/love him.
·        Spending quality time with both children would definitely help. (e.g.: taking a drive back home from school, or teaching the child) If the other child tries to manipulate to get your attention by crying or calling you, be firm but gentle and explain to your younger child who is trying to manipulate you, “I told you that I will come and sit with you after your brother finishes his homework) Make sure this information has been clearly explained to your child earlier.
·        But what if the child is too young? Well in such situations as a parent you have to find the window of opportunities you have when your younger child is either busy or sleeping. Try and work out a pattern that works for you and your family.
·        When you want to try and understand a child’s misbehaviour… pay attention and just “Listen” without interrupting your child. After hearing him/her out you may want to empathize or suggest your view depending on the difficulty or the grievances.
·        Crying is usually a sign of emotional distress (cry for help or attention) When children are emotionally distressed they are unable to express or verbalize the feeling due to the over-whelming hurt or upsetting feeling. This lead to tearing (for older boys/girls) and loud crying for younger children. Please note that some children do resort to extreme anger when emotionally charged. This usually happens when children do not know or has not been taught how to express (or not given permission to express… e.g.: boys don’t cry!) negative feelings in a positive manner.
By: Hema Gurnani @ WINGS Counselling Centre.