Communication is a vital aspect of human existence. Human beings cannot do without communication, even when communication is not intentional; a message is communicated either through our facial expressions or body language. Communication can take place in different contexts; my focus today is on interpersonal communication. It is very important for parents and children to recognize that communication is a two-way street, at some point, one speaks, the other listens, and vice versa. Parents have the right to speak to their children likewise children, their parents. A one sided communication is as good as soliloquizing.
In parenting, verbal and non-verbal communication must be used to uplift the development of children. When you are scolding young children, you have to choose your words carefully as there are words and actions that facilitate effective communication while some erect barriers. Sometimes, we are so angry and we use hurtful words that could be more damaging than punishment. Some parents can’t sit close let alone allow children snuggle up to them. This communicates lack of affection, closeness and warmth to younger children. Therefore, we have to be careful of the messages we are sending to our children.
How successfully a child adjusts to life depends on his foundation. Children are not born with dominance of pleasant or unpleasant emotion. The emotion that is dominant in their lives depends mainly on the environment in which they live and the relationship they have with their parents and people around them. Children raised in an emotionally barren family are likely to be fearful, unhappy, hostile, and manifest negative behaviours more than children raised in an emotional fertile family. Life in an emotionally barren family is characterized by fear.
Fear is an unpleasant emotion that one has when one is frightened, or worried by something dangerous, painful or bad. Fear manifests in children when there is presence of something threatening or the absence of something that provides safety and security. Either way, fear inhibit self-assertiveness in children and can hamper the way children relate with others. Research also showed the following create fear in children:
Overprotectiveness: overprotective parents who see danger everywhere is communicating and encouraging dominance of fear in children. Children in this type of environment are often selfish and are loners.
Overstrictness: this happens when parents make rules without consideration for children’s feelings, feedbacks and opinions. This also encourages dominance of fear in children. Children in this environment consciously lie to avoid getting into trouble with parents. Children in an over intense environment mostly turn out to be bullies.
Communicating lack of affection / neglect (mostly through our non-verbal cues) causes children to lie, bully and steal.
Punishment to a reasonable extent can be a source of fear and most children will lie to avoid being punished.
Excessive scolding can cause children to be confused, afraid, as well as makes them lie.
Therefore, scolding children needlessly, punishing children unduly, raising children in an overstrict environment, ignoring / neglecting children ultimately make children apprehensive. In a relationship where children are fearful, communication will never be effective. This is not to say we should be permissive parents, because not correcting children when they are wrong means we are giving them the go ahead to continue behaving badly. There must be a balance. Punishment / scolding must be reasonable and children must know why they are being punished. Reassuring children that despite the punishment, you still love them is equally important.
As parents, we must be flexible, friendly, and be willing to hear from our children. Let’s not rely on punishment to instill fear into children in order to make them conform to certain rule/belief/ moral standard. Playing on fear will not make a message more potent or persuasive. As a matter of fact, messages produce a powerful effect through association with good feelings partly by enhancing positive thinking. Therefore, excellent interpersonal communication between parents and children is crucial to raising role models.