What to do and how to speak so that children will listen to us

difficult situations and how to skillfully respond to the emotions and needs of children. how to speak so that children will listen to us.

What to do and how to speak so that children will listen to us
What to do and how to speak so that children will listen to us

Communication with children is an extremely demanding area of ‹‹parenting and can be difficult for all of us. We do not always know how to react in difficult situations and how to skillfully respond to the emotions and needs of children. how to speak so that children will listen to us.

Because for years we have operated in certain well-established patterns of raising and addressing a child, these - to put it bluntly - often quite authoritarian solutions come easiest to us. Rewarding, punishing, coercing, making a child feel guilty, comparing him to others, ridiculing or blocking the expression of feelings and emotions are just some of the ways of exerting influence that we often experienced in childhood. As parents, we usually do the same quite automatically and unintentionally in our contact with our children. Meanwhile, as numerous studies and the experience of doctors and therapists show, these and other "educational methods" do not have the best impact on our children and our bond with them.

What does science say about it

Research on the brain conducted over the last twenty years in the world's largest research centers shows that the basis for the healthy development of children in every sphere (emotions, psyche, intellect, social contacts) is good relations with the closest adults. This means, above all, that children willingly and naturally (without unnecessary pressure) interact with adults, where they feel confident and safe. None of the once used methods of communicating with children and relating to their needs make it possible. Rather, it tends to cause a child to fear an adult, raise the level of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the child's brain, resulting in a flight, fight, or "freeze" attitude. That is, to break the agreement on which we really care so much.

In order for the child to be open to what we want to convey to him, his brain must undergo certain changes, because it is these changes that determine whether the child will be able to listen to himself and our message.

German neurobiologist Gerald Hüther  wrote in his book, young people develop enthusiasm and a genuine willingness to listen, understand, act effectively and cooperate. It can be said that children are biologically oriented to cooperation with others. There is no need to resort to violent forms of communicating with them. It is enough to skillfully support a child, then beneficial substances are activated in his brain that have a positive effect on his well-being and behavior.

How to speak so that children want to listen

First of all, focus on building a close bond and a relationship in which the child will feel safe. Without a sense of connectedness and belonging, as Hüther writes, adults too feel "lonely, insecure, helpless and powerless in the face of life's problems and difficulties, but in the case of children, these feelings are even more existential."

Existential because it is us adults who determine the survival of children and how their brain will be shaped. Will it be dominated by biochemical reactions related to good and up building feelings or destructive thoughts and behaviors? If a child's brain is dominated by high levels of the stress hormones cortisol and andrenaline on a daily basis, it will not develop properly. On the other hand, when we create conditions for the child in which the semiochemical substances that restore balance, well-being and health (including emotional) are more likely to activate in his brain, connections will be created in him that will help him today and in the future:

  • Deal with stress and difficult emotions, regulate emotions,
  • Learn faster and more effectively, it is easier to remember new information,
  • Take up new challenges with commitment and greater courage,
  • Enjoy good health,
  • Relate to others with empathy and understanding,
  • Build healthy and constructive relationships with people,
  • To experience peaceful love.

In order for children to develop healthy and harmoniously, they would like to listen to us and cooperate with us, we can first of all:

  1. Support them in difficult situations

As adults, our task is to support the child in situations where it is difficult for him. In order for this to be successful, it is important to remember about assuming the child's good intentions. When he expresses his anger, cries, slams doors, screams, etc., it never means that he is working against us and / or that we have neglected some area of ‹‹his "upbringing". When a child articulates his feelings intensively, he tries to take care of some unmet needs that are behind these feelings or emotions. He does it as best he can. As his brain allows him, still immature in the sphere of rational expression and naming of his feelings and emotions. When we are present and attentive to what is happening to the child in difficult times, we will build a bridge between him and us of understanding and understanding.

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A child who notices and feels that he can count on a parent in the moments when he is lost and does not understand what is happening to him, strengthens the belief that he is not alone, that he is important and that he can count on help people he loves. The level of his trust in his loved ones is rising. The child is open to listening and speaking. He is not afraid of the parent's reaction in situations in which he acts in a way that violates someone else's boundaries. Instead, it is open to learning how to do differently under similar circumstances in the future. Thanks to this, he learns to communicate skillfully and respect others.

Instead of the common "Stop!", "Calm down", "How are you acting ?!", you can therefore: "I can see that you are upset", "I can see that it is difficult for you", "I am with you". "I'm here for you."

  1. Listen to them calmly and talk to them in same

It is really difficult for adults to stop and talk calmly with a child today. It is understandable - they are busy, overworked, often exhausted and stressed. However, it is important to try to find a space to listen to your child and look at what is happening to him, how he is feeling, what he is experiencing. Regardless of the stage of development of the child, it is worth remembering that it needs a safe base. When he turns to us with a request or with some experience, it is worth putting aside other activities for a moment and opening up to listening. You can use empathic expressions: "How do you feel about it?", "Is it difficult for you?", "What is happening / unpleasant / sad to you today?" "Do you want to talk about it?", "I'm here and I'm listening to you", "Did it upset you?" etc. Such and similar messages help children name what they feel, understand their emotions and look for new forms of behavior in various life situations. On the other hand, parents help to establish close contact with the child, and thus - a priceless thread of understanding.

  1. Accompany them carefully

To help children open up to listening and to communicate effectively with us, it is worth learning to accompany them carefully yourself.

Attentive accompaniment is nothing more than an attitude towards the child full of sensitivity and awareness to the constantly changing needs and emotions. It mainly consists of:

  • spending even a short time with the child in full mindfulness (without unnecessary distractions); accompanying him or her in play, learning, and free time (if the child is willing),
  • following the child, i.e. trying to understand what he needs at a given stage of development and the willingness to follow it (as much as possible),
  • being present in his life, i.e. taking care to listen to his difficulties, worries and various emotions (even if they seem a bit exaggerated to us, adults),
  • openness to children's need for autonomy and their own choices (if they do not threaten their safety or that of others),
  • supporting the child in relations with other people.

  1. Be a natural role model

Research shows that children "are most likely to follow and collaborate with adults who respect and trust them." For us adults, this means that believing in our children, showing them kindness and respect, and bestowing those values ‹‹on other people around us, is something that strengthens our bond and naturally teaches children to approach themselves, us and others.

It is worth remembering that children get to know the world and learn, among others using mirror neurons and neurobiological resonance. When they observe how we function in relationships with ourselves and with others, how we behave and react in certain situations, their own neurobiological program is activated in them. The same one that leads to similar actions or behaviors as the person they are observing. Throughout their childhood and adolescence, young people learn primarily through imitation - in relation to their parents and their closest adults.

  1. Give them unconditional love and acceptance

The most important and precious thing we can give our children is unconditional acceptance. Love based on understanding and full acceptance of the child's diversity. Giving him space to feel that he's okay the way he is. No matter what his temperament is, how he reacts in certain situations and what emotions he experiences.

It is important to remember that taking a child as he is does not mean agreeing to everything he or she does. Calmly and skillfully refusing a child, communicating his (or someone else's) needs and boundaries to him is an extremely valuable skill that supports a healthy and constructive relationship and the child's sustainable development.

Being open to the child and that he or she will be different from our ideas about him helps him feel that he is valuable and important exactly as he is. That she doesn't have to conform to someone else's expectations in order to be loved. Unconditional love gives a child the strength to learn the world and overcome everyday challenges and become a person more and more aware of himself and others. It is also the foundation of our relationship and understanding, without which it would be difficult for both us and our children to find ourselves in the contemporary, ever-changing world.