21 Apr Making Choices
Learning to communicate starts very young. It doesn’t involve talking, in fact, they say that as little as 7% of communication involves words – the rest is body language, facial expression, gesture and tone of voice.
Having said that – how do children make their messages understood? We know that very early on children cry to get what they want. Parents will tell us that they understand different types of crying when their child is hungry, soiled, in pain or requires comfort. We then might see children starting to point to make us look at things that they are interested in or want to play with.
It’s around this point that children may feel frustrated when we don’t understand them or their gestures. If children do not attempt to communicate then they may not point or try to start conversations. So how can we help them to communicate with us? A very simple technique is to offer choices. More often than
not, parents are intuitive to their children’s needs. For example, a mum knows that Billy prefers apple juice to pear juice and he likes eating bananas instead of oranges. However, offering both to Billy and letting him choose gives him an opportunity to tell her. He doesn’t need to speak, but just pointing to the one he would like is enough. He may even choose both. At first, it might be an idea to start with giving a choice of two things – something Billy likes and something he doesn’t. This way, when he chooses something he likes, he will start to realise that his voice has been heard. With practice, Billy will learn that when he’s with you and you offer him a choice, his decision will get the result he wants.
Providing opportunities for children to communicate with us is the first step in helping them to make decisions and understand that we are listening to them.