Parenting practices around the world share three major goals: ensuring children’s health and safety, preparing children for life as productive adults and transmitting cultural values. A high-quality parent-child relationship is critical for healthy development.
Parent-child communication is at the heart of teaching future adults effective ways to communicate with others. Children learn attitudes, values, and behaviors, as well as gain knowledge, through communicating with others - the most important of whom are their parents. Communication between parent and child begins the day the child is born, or earlier, and continues as the child grows, matures and changes.
Parents are the models that children imitate during their childhood years. Parents who pay attention to their child's concerns and ideas teach their child that they are important in the family. Parents also teach the child how to listen to someone who is speaking. When parents talk respectfully to children, they are teaching children to be respectful when they speak. Shouting teaches children to shout, just as the words we use teach children that it is all right to use the words and language spoken in the home with others.
Talking and listening to children are the ways we most often communicate with our youngsters. Our facial expressions, gestures, and body language can also send messages. As we talk and listen with our children, some of the following suggestions could be useful to reflect upon:
- Do allow children to express themselves in their own words.
- Do listen carefully to what your child is saying.
- Do let your child explain what happened before making your comments.
- Do repeat what your child has said to clarify and show your understanding.
- Do not jump to conclusions. Let your child express his/her thoughts.