As parents, we can’t wait for our children to start talking and we will do anything to make sure they get the best and brightest start.
Communication in young children is much more than being able to speak, it is about body language, self-esteem and explorative actions. But it is something we can start developing with our children from day one. In fact, developing two-way communication is a key part to our child’s development as it helps them master speech and boosts their self-esteem and confidence.
At Child’s Play, we actively encourage our parents to engage in our children’s babble and to provide them with stimulus sounds by telling them what they are doing each day. We use a range of ways to communicate with our children and in this article, we go into how communication helps with a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem.
What is Good Communication with Young Children?
It starts from day 1 when they hear your voice; clear, open and so happy for them to be in the world. Those first words enhance the love they feel as their senses are stimulated for the first time. As they grow up, we continue to talk to them and play with them to show them we love them. As they begin to develop speech, young children may need some help and encouragement as parents you can:
- Practice active listening and encouraging social cues such as “Go on”, eye contact and smiling.
- Ask questions about the subject and what they got up to during the day
- Adjust your body language. Bring yourself to eye level by crouching down.
These practices help children feel valued when they are speaking and encourage them to express themselves more openly.
How is Self-Esteem affected by my communication practices?
Self-esteem is constructed a lot by early childhood experiences and the way children interact with communication practices. In fact, communication has a lot to do with confidence, relationship building skills and self-concepts.
What is self-concept?
Self-concept is essentially how someone thinks they belong to a community and the emotions associated with it. In young children, it shapes and defines how they think of themselves and where they think they fit in the world. Self-concept is often influenced by someone’s upbringing, teachings and their interests. Good self-concept includes positive relationships with parental figures and is the building blocks to demonstrating empathy.
Why is self-concept important?
Self-concept is an important part to a child’s self-esteem as it is how children will interpret themselves and paint a picture of the world. Self-concept determines the perception and assignment of characteristics such as kind, pretty and nice. These perceptions heavily influence who they choose to be friends with and aspire to be like. It also helps children understand the process behind feelings and help them apply them to new situations.
These perceptions and these feelings help them develop their communication skills and self-esteem.
Once self-esteem is built it enables children to take risks and motivates them to put more effort into activities they are interested in. Two-way communication builds self-esteem through praise and encouragement. It encourages trial and error and supports them when things don’t work the way they want them to. Most importantly, it also praises them for trying to talk and making sounds that are similar to words. It’s important as parents that we encourage and don’t overcorrect children as this can hinder their self-esteem and communication skills.
Communicating with your child
When they are babies, communicating with them can often be seen as a little one-directional. However, babies use a lot of hand gestures, noises and objects to communicate. Some of the ways you can communicate with them include:
- Being attentive and involving them in your everyday life, such as when you are cooking dinner.
- Looking them in the eye, smiling and mimicking the sounds they make.
- Reading books and encouraging storytelling
All of these ways help babies understand language and furthers their motivation to want to communicate.
As speech begins to develop this is where active listening plays a very important role in developing their self-esteem. Bend down, be patient and ask simple follow up questions to assist them in building those vital communication skills. As they are only starting out, try to summarise what they say and repeat it back to them and don’t overcorrect their enunciation or grammar.
We know it is a challenging time, and communicating the best with your child is something we all want as parents. At Child’s Play ELC, we are here to help. Feel free to give your room educator a call or pop in to ask for some tips on how to better your communication with your child to help them develop a love for learning.