The Importance of Communication by Beth Thomas
17th November 2016
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Communication is a key area of a child’s development; this is obvious to anyone who lives or works with young children. We can see that it’s essential for a child to communicate their needs, be it verbally or through body language such as crying or tugging on an adult’s arm. Not only do children need to communicate their needs, but they also need to learn to listen; a vital ingredient of communication. A child’s increasing ability to communicate and listen enables them to engage with the world in bigger and better ways, leading to the development of their identity, relationships with others and their capacity to learn.
The way in which we communicate with children provides a role model and impacts directly on their development. Children do not always have access to a rich array of vocabulary at home, particularly those who come from more deprived backgrounds, so this shows how important it is to create a vocabulary rich environment for children to thrive in.
Another aspect of language is whether it is positive or negative. Some children spend all day being told not to do things or to behave better; whereas others are given positive praise for the things they achieve. There is an important balance to be had here – of course children sometimes need to stop doing things that might be dangerous for themselves or others, but the way this is communicated makes all the difference to what a child learns from it. Children should be given the opportunity to think about what they are doing and work out for themselves whether there is a problem and how they might solve it. It is also important that we provide children with affirmative language, praising their efforts and maintaining an ethos of positive communication to boost children’s self-esteem.
A child’s level of self-esteem determines how they view themselves and leads to the development of a positive identity. Using positive communication to help children understand more about themselves, their peers and the world around them can enable their self-esteem to develop. If children have low self-esteem, which can be caused by negative communication, this can cause anxiety and further issues if the child rarely encounters positivity.
Our behaviour and communication with others in the presence of children is equally as important. Children will always see the way in which we behave with other adults around us; they show how much they pick up through their role-play and conversation, which can be very telling at times! If you observe children’s role-play, you will see that they bring an element of their home experience, but they may also copy your mannerisms or the phrases you say regularly.
In conclusion, our communication with and around children should seek to be positive and affirming. Not only the vocabulary we choose to use, but the body language we display also impacts on children’s own communication. Practitioners should encourage children’s verbal communication by introducing new vocabulary – use positive language and focus on children’s strengths to help build self-esteem and a positive sense of identity.
Keep your eyes peeled for Beth’s next installment.
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