How Do You Speak To Children? Why Does It Matter?

The critical mind does not begin developing until about the age of three and isn’t completely developed until approximately age 12. The implication of this for children is that they are quite literally like a sponge. Everything they experience, goes directly into the subconscious mind and forms their attitudes, beliefs, habits and behaviours.

One of the most basic practices parents and caregivers can adopt to ensure that the knowledge that forms the subconscious mind is healthy, is to choose their words wisely.

Organic language is language that is positive and conveys a healthy message. For example, do you find yourself or people you associate with, saying “my work is killing me”, “I’m just sick of it” or “all the women on that side of the family have heavy thighs”?

Language is a reflection of how we feel, what we know and what we believe. When we communicate that ‘work is killing me’, what we find is that work becomes the source of serious, often overwhelming, distress. When children hear this, they hear it very literally and form extremely negative impressions of what it is like to be in the workforce.

Children are highly suggestible. They hear literally, speak inferentially and are being shaped by all of their experiences. They are always listening, enquiring and deducing. The people they are surrounded by, contribute in the most direct way to the contents of their subconscious mind which they carry with them forever. Quite simply, the way we interact with them, shapes them.

So how can you ensure the messages that are being received by the children in your care are responsible and positive?

Be Positive

If work is bothering you, it’s good for children to see that you have efficient ways of dealing with common daily stresses. Refrain from using statements such as “work is killing me”. Demonstrate and emphasize the aspects of your career that you enjoy.

When you give an instruction, provide a logical explanation.

For example, if you ask a child to hold your hand when they get to the street and they as why, rather than using the old “because I said so”, briefly explain to them that you want to make sure they are safe from any moving cars that they might not be able to see right away.

Avoid Blanket Statements

When children hear blanket statements, they take them literally. Hearing “boys are just born to be rough and loud” is like giving permission for them to be rough and loud. Explaining that “you take after the heavy side of the family”, directly impacts a child’s self esteem and confidence, leading them to believe they are overweight and always will be.

Monitor TV

Lots of people are more concerned about the amount of time children spend watching television than the content. Children take in all of the information around them and although they may not appear to be paying attention to news items, they are definitely hearing them. When children are subjected regularly to news items which they know are real, they form beliefs that are not necessarily accurate but very real to them.

Pay Attention To and Reward Positive Behaviour

Praise your child for demonstrating positive behaviours and attitudes. When possible, ignore or make little fuss over undesirable behaviours. Explain precisely what is wrong with the negative behaviour and ensure the consequences of continuing the behaviour are clear from the beginning.

Demonstrate Constructive Conflict Resolution

It is fine to experience an amount of conflict in front of children. What is important is the way it is handled and resolved. Show that you are able to disagree without getting angry. Acknowledge that different people have different ways of doing things and that is a good thing. If conflict is experienced in front of a child, show them that the conflict has been resolved. This is one of the greatest skills you can teach children. The ability to effectively resolve conflict in a positive way is a skill they will carry with them forever.

Alicia Fairclough is an On Call nanny with Nannies on Call as well as a registered and certified Clinical Hypnotherapist who practices in Vancouver, BC.  Alicia’s sessions are safe and fun and having been a former school teacher she is in tune with the wide range of issues that children and families are experiencing.