Commandment 7 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Understand their communication Style

I say happy new month to you all. I am excited to be with you today.

Permit me to share with you the Commandment 7 of Rights-Based Communication with Children: Understand their communication Style.

Children do not communicate like adults. The first communication barrier between adult and children is lack of knowledge on the part of the adults that they and children communicate differently. When an adult understands that he and a child communicate differently, he will seek to find out how a child communicates and meet the child at his own level.

Please note that the first thing we must understand about the way child communicate is that their communication is not structured or organised in most cases. Due to the foregoing, they are not always brief in their discussion. Consider a 6-year old, who was yelled at by the school bus driver. She approached her teacher to complain. Characteristically, she is not just going to report and leave. She will begin from when the driver picked her in the morning, how he did not use his seat belt until he saw some uniformed men ahead, how the driver waited in the house of one of her classmates and she did not come out on time, how a car nearly brushed them and so on. If you are not careful and do not understand how children communicate, you will get fed up and ask her to go straight to the point. When you ask her to go straight to the point, you will notice that she will make one or two attempts to continue from where you interrupted her and it will take your insistence for her to go straight to the point. If you observe, you will find that the child at that point becomes uncomfortable with the discussion and the only thing on her mind is to leave your presence. She simply feels rejected. Her countenance tells her story eloquently.

When you interrupt a child this way, you gradually kill her self-esteem and confidence. The truth is that there is nothing wrong with the way the child is communicating. It is either, you do not understand how children communicate or you do not have the time to hear the child out. Both will not be an excuse for interrupting the child. Your interruption is obstructing a process and it has dire implication.

Adults interruption also makes them lose quality information. There are many things a child may say in trying to report a matter that may not directly relate to the case at hand but reveals to you one or two things about the character of the person involved or give you better facts on how to handle a situation. For example in the case of the six-year-old above, she told the teacher that the driver did not wear his seat belts. That provides a clue to the disposition of the driver to safety while driving the children. It also gives you a clue that the supervisor, assigned to the bus with the driver is not effective.

Even when children are inarticulate and it appears they are not making sense, we must not interrupt them. Our responsibility is to help them to crystallise their thoughts and make sense out of what they are saying. The child does not need to know the implication of what she is saying, it is the responsibility of the custodians to clarify, interpret and act.  The truth of the matter is that we are only able to do this if we have it settled in our minds that childhood is not synonymous with foolishness and that the child is not out of his mind, just because he is not as articulate as an adult.

I think the way children communicate is deliberately installed by God. Since they will not go straight to the point, it helps them to know if they have your attention before they go to the main point. It also helps them to build confidence before they get to the main point. Lastly it gives the adult an opportunity to show love to the child and as I have said times without number on this page, love to children means attention and acceptance.

I believe it requires a lot of patience to have a meaningful communication with children. I implore you as a primary or secondary custodian to be ready to supply a large dose of patience in communicating with children.

I think I should sign out here. Thank you for visiting today. Sure you learnt one or two things on how to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY and Think the FUTURE.

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