10 Nonverbal Communication Tips to Help Parents Communicate with Toddlers
The first form of communication that children establish with their parents is by crying – from right around the time they are born. However, it isn’t until a child reaches 6-9 months of age that he can understand what you are trying to communicate to him. Non verbal communication is much stronger than verbal, and you do it even without realizing. The way you conduct yourself, the facial expressions, the tone of your voice or the little gestures that you do are easily picked up by the child and can have a more profound effect on him or her than you can fathom.
But using non verbal communication as a parent requires a lot of focus and awareness. As children can pick these reactions up quickly, you can use the following tips in order to create a stronger bond with your child via non verbal communication.
Baby sign language
Children, when they feel the need, use a simplified form of sign language to express and convey certain wants as to when they want milk, or need to be changed, or want to be picked up,among others. Parents have the ability to pick up on these signs quite easily and consequently be on the watch for the child while he or she makes these signs to understand what they need to say.
Use pictures to talk
Images and pictures are a powerful communication tool for kids. Create flash cards using laminated pictures of common objects to engage with your child and let him or her guide you through their own way of exchanging emotions, and letting you know how he or she feels about it.
Use the tone of your voice
The kids may not understand the words to a song a very well, but they have an excellent understand of the tone of your voice. Use grunts or serious tones to discipline the child and more cheerful tones for approval and appreciation. Music and sounds have the ability to instil and nurture the emotions and feelings of a child, and they can either lift up their spirits or dampen them.
Show them “actions”
A child would not know what to do with a spoon unless you show them how it works, repeatedly if possible. Toddlers are excellent mimics of the actions they see you or anyone performing around them that catches their eye, and that special attribute could be used as a way for you to teach them about cutlery, putting away toys, showing love and appreciation, and not touching hazardous objects among other important actions or activities.
Actions for emotions
Since toddlers are adept at following up on different actions, they can be easily taught to express emotions like sadness, anger or happiness through actions as well. You can show them how a flying kiss means love, waving away could mean goodbye, or a shake of the head stood for eother ‘yes’ or ‘no’, this can help enhance the bond between you and your child, as both of you would find new ways to understand and appreciate each other.
Pointing towards any object or person is one of the most potent non verbal guides that can help parents understand what their toddlers want. Point to objects while naming them to help your child learn to associate sounds of objects’ names with their image. And you will see how fast and easy your child picks up on it – in no time, he or she will be able to point out to certain objects and discern them among the others for a specific purpose or use.
Use facial expressions and body language
Kids may not understand what certain words mean, but they can understand body language and facial expressions quite well. Thus while trying to establish your opinion, use actions like putting your hands on your hips to communicate your disapproval on a certain activity or behaviour that your baby has been associated with, a hug and a kiss in order to express love, finger shaking to convey ‘no’, and using hand gestures for words like ‘open’, ‘close’, ‘nap’, ‘baby’, et al. If you are in close proximity of the child, then you might want to try communicating by only facial expressions. For example, a frown and gruff voice might be enough for the child to understand that you are grumpy, while similarly, a smiling face accompanied with a cheery voice might tell the baby that you are happy.
Postures for emotional connection
If your child needs you to understand them, then you cannot do it being positioned at a distance. They will legitimately find you distant and unapproachable; and therefore, you need to bend down, or sit down to be at the level of the child or scoop them and bring them up to yours in order to understand their problems more clearly. This will let you establish an effective and easy pathway of communication between you and your child.
Implementing routines and rituals for effective communication
A totally effective way to communicate how to adapt and embrace their surrounding atmosphere, you can help ease the child into certain routines and rituals that let them understand how the world works around them. Like getting up and going to work, if you expose your child daily to certain actions and activities, they will certainly take it up and get used to it as the natural course of life. You need to make sure that these repetitive actions that determine the course of your child’s psyche should only be positive in nature.
Using eye contact
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, a child’s way of using eye contact is an important indicator of his or her mental health. A lot of parents often do not concentrate on how important eye contact is as a tool of nonverbal communication. While you are trying to explain something or tell them something, make sure their gaze is held by yours. Maintaining eye contact ensures that whatever you are saying is properly getting relayed to the back of your child’s mind. However, while talking, their eyes would not only be focused on your eyes but also on your lip and face movements, and that would give the child the cues and ideas about how you actually feel, and would make the communication much more profound.