Now the child himself obviously has a problem which is not allowing him or her to use his or her mental abilities to their full potential. The problem could have to do with conflicts within the family, conflicts with other children or with teachers at school, disappointments in love, lack of self-confidence, lack of proper nutrition, a disillusionment with society and the school system, as well as many other possibilities.
In such a case, the most effective method of communication is active listening. Let us look again at some brief guidelines for active listening.
1) Let the other talk without interruption. Do not break his or her flow with your need to project your own ideas. When we interrupt others, we cut off their flow. This flow may bring to the surface the cause of the problem, which they themselves have not yet discovered.
2) Look into the other’s eyes and not away. Let your body be facing the person and not sideways. Show interest in what the other is saying, and in this way let him or her know that you are listening actively and carefully, and care about what he or she is saying.
3) Do not, in any case, criticize or start giving advice. It is extremely important not to criticize or disagree or reject during the active listening. At the end of the discussion we may state how we feel. After the discussion is completed, if we do not agree, we, of course, have the right to state so. But during the active listening do not stop the other’s flow with criticism or rejection.
4) Ask questions which help you to understand more clearly what the other is feeling. These question will help both you and the other (in this case, the child) to understand what the problem is. You can imagine that you are the other. Imagine how he or she feels, and what is going on in his or her life and you will be guided to the right questions to ask. Asking questions rather than giving advice may be difficult for some of us in the beginning. It is not easy, but those who have tried it have found it very effective and have been surprised by the results.
In some cases where we might be performing this technique mechanically, the others may be surprised and react negatively, especially if they have learned to receive continual criticism. But if we persist to show interest, and stop criticizing, at some point the child will open up. We must also be sensitive about the correct time and place to approach the other. Also a child must never be pushed against his will into discussing something which he or she does not want to. Eventually the need to come close to us will help him or her to open to us.
5) We may also affirm whether or not what we have understood from the other’s communication is correct. This technique is used by most psychologists to help a person open up and get clarity about what he or she is feeling. We simply repeat back to our children what they are telling us in our own words. This helps us to verify that we have understood what they are saying, and helps them to feel that we are accepting what they is saying. If they feel that we have not understood, they will try to explain to us in a different way. This will help all to become clearer about what is bothering each.
These techniques for effective communication can do much to bring harmony and love to our relationships with our children. It is important that parents get started with this system immediately. No child is too young to understand this type of communication.
Because these techniques require a whole new way of thinking and communicating, we suggest that parents and teachers or any individuals who want to master them, seek out seminars which teach these methods with practical workshops.
Remember that the basis for all successful communication is love. Below you will find various examples of effective communication for various situations with children.