If you’ve followed our articles, you know just how passionate we are about language development in young children and just how confident we are in Roybi Robot’s role in developing communication skills.
Young children have a unique way of communicating that often leaves parents feeling confused and defeated. From baby babble to toddler talk and the perseverant preschooler, communication with your children can be somewhat of an art that requires patience and dedication.
Reflecting back on an article published by ROYBI last summer titled “Teaching Conversation: The Importance of Helping Your Child Engage in Conversation,” ROYBI was highlighted as an excellent facilitator in the development of communication skills in young children. From fundamental language skills to appropriate conversation techniques, Roybi Robot is a wonderful addition to your child’s language development.
But what else can we do as parents to ensure we are effectively communicating with our young children? How can we be sure that we are providing them with a safe place to learn language and communication without feeling frustrated or misunderstood?
We’ve previously discussed developmental milestones as they pertain to language, the behavioral benefits of sound language development, and how to encourage children to communicate effectively, but we’ve yet to highlight how to ensure effective communication, specifically between parents and their children.
Keep your expectations developmentally appropriate
Children are learning and picking up on language at an incredibly rapid pace. They’re acquiring new vocabulary and learning conventional communication skills all while developing independence and discovering the world around them. Be kind and accepting of your children as they navigate their communication and language development skills. Provide them with support and understanding, knowing that their communication capability is a work in progress. It is imperative that parents exude patience with their child’s speech. Refer to our article on “Language Development Milestones” for more information on appropriate language development milestones.
Embrace acceptable non-verbal communication
Non-verbal communication is just as, if not more important than verbal communication. It is easy to provide coaching and support, reinforcing the importance of eye contact and open posture, but it is easily forgotten that parents must not only teach this but should also model and accept it when communicating with your child. Be sure to read your children’s facial expressions and body language. As parents, it is important to recognize that children may not accurately voice or express their thoughts due to their emerging communication skills. Coaching them to fall back on acceptable non-verbal communication will significantly contribute to building their communication confidence. ROYBI is an excellent supplemental reinforcement of these skills and can assist your child in becoming more comfortable and confident in their non-verbal communication skills.
Keep communication open and flowing
Children struggle to talk about topics that make them uncomfortable. When things are unfamiliar to them, they may retreat or babble in a confusing way. By incorporating the simple phrase “tell me more” into daily communication with your child you are showing them that you are open and nonjudgmental in your listening. You’re allowing them the space to reflect on their conversation and encouraging them to talk without shutting down. This is also an excellent way to keep communication flowing as you reflect on how to move forward with more difficult topics of conversations.
Repeat and summarize
When you’re out to eat at a restaurant the waitress typically takes your order and repeats it back to you. Some even do this when they’ve written it down and there is a very good reason for this. We communicate in a way that makes sense to us, in our own minds. However, this may not be the way our intended communication is received. Take the ever-popular example of “Let’s eat, Grandpa” versus “Let’s eat Grandpa.” One implies that we are inviting Grandpa to the dinner table while removal of the comma and the suggested pause lends us to believe we are actually eating Grandpa. Think of how those two examples play in your mind and imagine you are conversing with someone. The same, exact three words, with different intonations, can imply completely different things, which is why it is critical that you are repeating and summarizing your conversations with young children. They are just learning these social conversational rules and you’ll save yourself a lot of heartaches if you’re able to repeat what they’re saying back in a conversational manner. Roybi Robot also implements this approach. Through repetition and encouraging words, our little educational robot, boost a child’s confidence and allows him/her to practice communicating clearly and precisely.
Finally, the last and most important thing to consider when communicating with your child is that you are their safe place. As kids work to figure out proper ways to communicate, allow them to use their communication with you as a trial run. Do not assume that they are being disrespectful and do not automatically correct their communication and language. Instead, work with them and make it a team effort to evaluate their words and techniques. Parents often want to immediately jump in and parent, or correct, their children. However, a more effective approach is to take comfort in being your child’s safe zone and treat these moments as learning opportunities rather than a chance to discipline.