6 Ways to Know If You Have Been Communicating “Too Much” With Your Child
Imagine that your first reaction when you look at the title of this article is a shock.! You might think: If communication is so positive, how can it become too much?
I am going to give you an example of a few years ago when it came out everywhere that having a glass of red wine a day was good for your health and people began to drink full bottles and get drunk, exaggerating the original statement. The same goes for communication with children.
Much has been said that communicating with children is good, but many parents exaggerate and “intoxicate” their children’s brains with more information than they can decode and absorb at any given time. This “intoxication” produces confusion, anxiety, and restlessness in the kids. At the end of the day, parents are exhausted from so much talking and energy spent and kids ended up not doing what their parents intended them to do.
How to know if the quantity and quality of your communication are balanced, too little, or too much? Here, you have 6 ways to make a self-assessment.
1) According to your child’s age, check how much he/she is following your instructions. Keep track of how many times you have to repeat something to make them do what you tell them to do. If you often have to repeat something many times in order to be followed it may be a sign that communication is not effective.
2) How long does it take you to explain to your child something that happened, that is happening or that is going to happen? If you take more than 5 minutes, you are talking too much. The average attention span of a preschool child is around 5 minutes and between 8 and 10 years old it is no more than 10 minutes. When the task is just listening to an adult talking, this attention span time decreases. So, if you take more than 5 minutes to explain yourself, it is very possible that you are using more words than you should, and/or you are repeating the same statements over and over resulting in your child not paying attention to you.
3) What type of language are you using? The same one that you used to talk to your friend about the last thing that happened to you, the one that you would use to write a parenting article or, a simple, concise language, short and articulated, commanding sentences appropriately for the mind of a child? Remember that they don’t have the same richness in their vocabulary as you do and shooting them, so many new words at once will result in confusion and overwhelm them.
4) What emotional tone are you using to communicate with your child? Frustrated, hurt, disappointed, annoyed, anxious, or rather neutral, calm, the-world-won’t-end type of tone? Remember that children pay more attention to parents’ emotions and body language than to the content of what they say.
5) Are you noticing your child more restless, anxious, somewhat aggressive at home, at school, or in extra-curricular programs? Do the experiment of lowering the tone and speed with which you speak and the number of words you use when communicating with him or her. You might see a positive change in their behavior.
6) As in almost all of my articles, I will insist on consistency. If your children are not obeying you or are not behaving well, check to what extent you are implementing the logical consequences that you told them they would have if they do not do what was agreed.
So, summarizing, talk less to your children, use short and simple sentences, use a neutral non-over emotional tone of voice, be more consistent with the logical consequences that you agreed with them, and you will see how you will get better results. And, best of all, you will preserve more of your precious energy.