Preschool psychology

Ever try having a serious conversation with a child under the age of 5? When I say serious, I literally mean, having a conversation where you are trying to communicate an idea and you need feedback to be sure that it is understood or that you have made your point.

I was spoilt with Hannah, ‘cos I think she’s that rare kind of individual who is able to actually listen, process and respond. Maddison is able to hear, process and ignore with aplomb.

Effectively communicating

I remember my first semester at journalism school. The lecturer did a circular flow chart which listed the various steps of effective communication and the key step was the last one, which was feedback.

Essentially what it was saying is that it doesn’t matter that you’re the best communicator since sliced bread, or that you are as eloquent as a lark, if your audience does not respond in the desired fashion which in itself communicates understanding, you might as well be whistling Dixie.

According to a report published recently, apparently couples in long-term relationships know less about each other than those just starting off in a relationship.  

This makes sense when you factor in that those engaging in a new relationship have a higher vested interest in getting to know the other person.

Good communication = Good parenting

When it comes to kids, you have to stay on top of their development like a hawk, until they’re ready to fly the coop. The need to develop a good communication system with them is probably the most vital aspect of good and effective parenting.

It sounds a bit mundane, but I take time and sometimes hours of effort to get Maddison to understand why I need her to reply to a question I ask. It’s become more of challenge recently. Since she’s turned five she is even more convinced that she is the ruler of the universe and the rest of us mere mortals have been placed at her disposal to amuse.

I’d call out to her from one room and receive no response. When I eventually go to where she is, and ask her what she’s doing or why she did not respond, I sometimes get a bemused look as a response, or an irritated shrug. This is not acceptable.

So I literally sit her down and I explain why I need to know where she is and what she’s doing, and more importantly why it’s just good form to respond.

Now Maddi is very capable of understanding my reasoning, her problem is that despite understanding me, she thinks its a load of balls, I mean why the hell should I respond to you when I’m doing nothing really?

Chocolate is the answer

It’s took me a few weeks of reinforcing the lesson, until I got the breakthrough. Chocolate! Yes chocolate is the cure for everything in Maddi’s world. I’m not even joking here. Our daily commute (on the days I have her) to school involves a stop at the garage shop where I buy her a small choccie.

The moment I threatened to stop the chocolate supply, she suddenly understood the need for responses. And now I even get an addendum to her response which goes thus, ‘Dad, did you hear? I replied.’

The biggest cause of conflict in the world today is bad communication, whether it be between countries, companies, people or children. It really is absolutely vital to entrench a culture of effective communication in your kids as early as possible!

What techniques do you use to improve your child’s communication skills?

Read more by Marlon Abrahams

Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.
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