Kids and Communication
After some familial communication mishaps recently, we wanted to teach our kids some basic communication skills at Family Home Evening. We thought if we get them off to a good communication start in life, they might avoid some common mistakes and hurt feelings in the future. We covered body language, expressing feelings, coordinating, compromising, the importance scale, and interrupting. Because we did a lot of role-playing, the kids loved it! Our oldest child is nine and your youngest a baby, so you’ll see this post is written as though speaking to young kids. If you have older children, though, you can easily adapt the concepts appropriately.
1. Body Language. Before a word is even spoken, you can tell a bit how a person feels by their body language. Through our body language we can show such things as anger, boredom, joy, frustration, most anything! If I look at you with my hand on my hip and a scowl on my face, what does that mean? Does it mean I’m happy with you? No. It means you’re in trouble. If I’m sitting with my elbow on the table and my head in my hand and my eyes are droopy, what do you think that means? I’m probably bored or tired. If I look at you, clap my hands, and give you a really happy face, what does that mean? I’m really happy for you!
Should we ever be careful with our body language? We should. What if you’re at church or school and the lesson is really boring? Should you try and look bored so your teacher knows how boring her lesson is? It might be hard not to, but you can try to show respect by paying attention and looking interested.
2. Express feelings: It’s okay to say how you feel — especially if someone asks you. You want to be honest, but you also want to be tactful. For example, if your sister asks you if you like her dress, and you don’t, you could say, “I think it’s really ugly.” That’s honest, but you could be nicer and say, “It’s okay, but I like that other one better.”
If someone asks you a question, too, it is really important to answer them. If you disregard their question, they will think you are ignoring them, which is impolite.
If a person is, however, being mean and trying to hurt you, you do not have to answer their mean questions (like, “Who do you think you are? The king of the world?”).
3. Coordinate: Sometimes you have to plan things with other people. It is especially important when working with others to express your feelings about a situation when you are trying to come up with a plan. Let’s say you are planning a party for your dad with your sister. Both you and she could make a list of all the things you want to do for the party, then pick the best ones to use.
4. Compromise: Sometimes you may have a really great idea for an activity and your sister may have a really great idea for an activity, but you only have time for one of the activities. What should you do? You could compromise. That means to give and take. Maybe you could use part of her idea and part of your idea at the same time. Or, if you don’t mind saving your idea for later, and just using her idea, then that is okay, too.
4. The Importance Scale: Sometimes people will have different ideas and will argue about them. But, when they get talking about it, they realize that one idea to one person is really, really important — like a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10, but the idea to the other person really isn’t that important — maybe like a 2. When both people realize that the idea is really important to one of the people, it is really nice for the person who doesn’t care as much to just let the person who cares more make the final decision.
So, let’s say we want to paint the house. We’ll pretend that your dad wants the house to be grey and I want the house to be pink. Let’s say we get in an argument over it. Grey, pink, grey, pink, grey, pink. Then we decide to talk and see how important this decision is to each of us. Dad says when it comes down to it, he doesn’t really care what color the house is, just that we have a house. I say, I really, really love pink and I’ve always wanted a pink house. When dad realizes that, he is very nice and says, “OK, if it’s that important to you, then you can have your pink house.”
5. Interrupting. What if you have something really important to say? Should you always say it? We know you want to, but it is most polite to wait until someone is done with what he or she is saying before you start talking. Let’s say mom is talking to dad and you want to tell them something really important. Can you do your best to wait just a few more seconds? If you will work on waiting for us to finish talking, we will do our best to let you share what you want before you forget. We know it’s hard to remember what you want to say sometimes.
Conclusion & Discussion
Can you think of anyone else we need to communicate with? Our Heavenly Father. How do we do that? Through prayer. Just like we need to communicate clearly and honestly with those we physically talk to, we need to take time to pray to our Heavenly Father. We can tell him about our day and even ask him questions and He will answer us. I hope we all can practice good communication with those around us and also remember to pray and be close to our Father in Heaven.
Can you think of anything we missed? Communication is so important every day; we hope this points our sweet kids in the right direction.