Speaking the Language of Love to our Children

Published on September 7, 2013

Communicating with our child can be a big challenge. As parents you are trying to get our children to do what we think they need to do in order to become competent and capable adults. Often our children have ideas of their own.

One reason this is really challenging is that it takes 25 years to grow a human brain! A child doesn’t have all their brain parts (though they have the blue prints) until age 4. But then it takes another 21 years for those parts to slowly come online and wire together and work efficiently.

What this means for adults is that our children do not process language and data in the same way we do. For many adults we really like to use a lot of language that contains all sorts of reason and logic. We go into great detail giving our children all sorts of reasons and logic why they need to eat, dress a certain way, go to bed, study etc. And all this talking never seems to work. Well part of the reason it doesn’t work is a child’s ability to under reason and logic as well as exceptions (why we cannot do certain or exceptions) until age 12!

Another important point to know about your child’s ability to understand your spoken word is that speak and comprehension (what we do when listen) do not match. Often parents think their children can understand more than what they actually do because their child can speak. Sometimes young children can speak fairly complex sentences or express sophisticated thoughts for their age. However, their ability to speak does not match their ability to understand (comprehension) what is being said to them. Comprehension lags behind speaking. Next time you give your child a long series of commands or instructions, ask them to tell you what they understood. Often they’ll say “I don’t know” or they’ll give you a wrong answer.

Our children want to be loved and they want to make their parents happy and spend time. Most parents never take child development classes or neurobiology classes on their children. So parents speak to their young or adolescent children like little adults and then when they child doesn’t execute the parent turns to more fierce and harsh language or punishment. When we use the deadly horsemen of blaming, complaining, criticism and contempt on our children they come away feeling bad about themselves and not knowing what is expected.

Ineffective communication with children in which the parent emphasizes anger, physical punishment (canning) sends the child into a fearful state. When a child is a fearful state they can learn or understand. This lack of comprehension often leads the parent to using more ineffective and harsh forms of communications. If not corrected it may lead to a child’s lower self-esteem and poorer relationship with the parent.

To be effective in communicating with your child do the following:

·         Use a gentle start-up which is a soft voice, getting down at eye level with your child and make sure they are looking at you so you know you have their attention

·         State what you want in very short sentences. State what you WANT from your child do not phrase things in terms of what you don’t want. For example: I want you to pick up your shoes. Do NOT phrase: I’m so tired of you leaving your stuff around, I don’t want to see all this stuff laying on the floor.

·         At the end of your directions, ask your child what they heard you say. If they got it wrong, re-state it in an easier way for them to comprehend

·         Catch your child being good and let them know. Too often people focus on what is wrong, but if we don’t let our kids know what they are doing right they won’t know. Just telling kids what they are doing wrong doesn’t let them know what they CAN do.

·         Read a clinically based parenting book to learn how to become more effective at parenting. A great one is “Love and Logic for Toddlers.” Sold in Singapore and online. They have a website and Facebook page too.


Category(s):Attachment Issues, Blended Family Issues, Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development, Communication Disorders Problems, Family Problems, Oppositional & Defiant Behavior in Children & Teens, Other, Parenting

Written by:

Tammy M. Fontana, MS NCC CTRT Sex Therapist USA

Ms. Fontana is a relationship counsellor specializing in helping people with their relationships whether it is dating, marriage, parenting or with their extended family. Her clients call her approach practical and found solutions to their problems. Ms. Fontana has obtained her Master Degree in Mental Health counselling from the United States and is a USA Nationally Certified Counsellor. She is also a Certified Choice Theory Reality Therapist and is USA trained Sex Therapist.

Tammy M. Fontana, MS NCC CTRT Sex Therapist USA belongs to All in the Family Counselling Centre, PTE LTD in Singapore

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