At the beginning of 2017, i listened to an eloquently delivered talk about the need to help our children develop effective communication skills. Undoubtedly effective communication skills are considered critical for one to thrive in the 21st century, yet as parents or guardians we have made limited investments in horning this skill in our children.
I am learning and having greater appreciation that a lot of the world’s problems could be avoided, if only we learnt how to communicate better. Better still, a lot more could be accomplished if we had strong communication skills. All the leaders that have had a huge impact at national, regional and global level have been great communicators. We pay huge sums of money to listen to inspirational speakers or buy their books, and other related materials.
On the other hand, we have all interfaced with individuals who clearly could benefit from a class on communication 101. Certain basic skills such as please, thank you and excuse me are nonexistent in their speech. More, scary is the increasing lack of basic public speaking skills and writing skills among recent graduates. I recently received an application for a job from a stranger that read, “Hi dear!”
Given our busy schedules as a family, it is sometimes next to impossible to find time to stop and talk about things, unless of course it is scheduled. One of the instructive strategies that the speaker shared with us was having regular scheduled times as a family to collectively connect. For instance, she shared how her family holds weekly scheduled meetings where they are expected to share their highs, lows and plans for the following week. Through this space, the children learn to share their stories, feelings and key learning.
Additionally, the speaker encouraged us to ensure that as parents we use this space to actively listen to our children. We were encouraged to desist from defending ourselves if our children share their feelings and we don’t agree with what they were saying. When we listen to our children, it helps to make the child feel loved and valued.
Technology has also become a killer of effective communication among families and friends as it has replaced interactions. I often come across families on a date or an outing but they are still busy on the social media. Equally, in the home settings, technology has replaced time for face to face interactions.
In my family, we usually touch base for an hour on Mondays, we begin by spending time in worship, share testimonies, read a portion of scripture and pray together. A family ritual of weekly meetings augmented with probably daily interactions without distractions can definitely make a big difference in fomenting good communication habits.
Such spaces also help us to understand a little better these little beings that have been placed in our care. If your child is sad or upset, a gentle touch or hug may let him know that you understand those sad or bad feelings. We should not tell our child what they should think or feel. We should let them express those feelings. And be sure not to minimize these feelings by saying things like, “It’s silly to feel that way,” or “You’ll understand when you get older.” His feelings are real to him and should be respected.
As parents, we could make this world a better place by raising great communicators; it all begins with us first becoming great role models in good communication skills. Finding ways to better communicate with our children will go a long way in helping them reach their full potential.