Being a parent is not an easy job at the best of times. While we all want to do the best for our children, we sometimes inadvertantly allow the pressures and frustrations of everyday life to show themselves when we talk with our children.
Children are incredibly perceptive to our moods and behaviour. Why ? Because they have to be, we teach them almost everything they know in the first few years of life so they pick up on these things without really having to try very hard at all.
If we're lucky, we get to spend a lot of time with our offspring in those early formative years and how we talk, move and gesture to them signals our inner feelings, unless you're already very good and practiced in making that instant change from work mode to parent mode.
How often have you been talking with your spouse, partner or another adult about your really hard day at the office, factory, shop, etc. All of a sudden in burst the kids with their Barbie dolls, Action Man or some other toy, babbling on about what they've just done with it. You, still in work mode, wag the finger at them saying something along the lines of "Can't you see I'm talking, don't interupt" sound familiar ?
Of course it does, the words might not be exactly what you'd say but I can bet that at sometime in your life you've reacted something like this to your child. You don't have to be shouting at your child to give them the indication with your body language alone, that you are not in the best of moods or that this is not the best time to get the full attention of their parent and it would be best if they went away till you are in the right frame of mind to talk and play with them.
Why? Because they pick up on the non verbal cues we all give off. It sounds very obvious and it is but how many times do we do things like this when interacting with our little loved ones. The answer for most parents unfortunately is a lot more than we should because we've not been able to immediately switch from one state of mind to another.
As children grow up with us as their mentors, they learn about the subconscious body language way before they learn the spoken language. They also learn about emotions we are expressing towards them through the tone of voice we use when speaking to them.
Can you imagine trying to koo koo a baby with an angry voice ? How do you think the child would react to these gruff and loud noises coming out of your mouth ? It just wouldn't work would it.
Because from the moment a new born baby enters this world, the influencial adults, especially the parents, talk in soft quiet tones along with gentle, soft movements. So the child learns almost immediately these people are nice, comforting and non threatening.
In fact children are born with only two fears; the fear of falling and loud noises, everything else we or others teach them. This includes how to express themselves both positively and negatively.
If you don't belive this, watch your children and see just how many of your gestures, expressions and movements they mimmick without even trying, you'll be surprised. How many times have you said "You're just like your father/mother."
So when you are talking with your child try not to tower over them and talk down at them with the wagging finger or with your arms crossed in front of your chest. Try instead to sit side by side or with your child on your lap or crouch down to their level.
Talk where possible in softer tones with your palms facing upwards and outwards. This is an open, honest and non threatening hand gesture we all use when we're being open and honest with people, you can't stop yourself in everyday conversation without sitting on your hands or putting them in your pockets or under your armpits, even then the desire has to be supressed.
Show them you are on concentrating solely on them by looking them in the eye, not at the TV, newspaper etc. Because although you may well be able to multi task different jobs, your child will perceive it as non interest and you won't get your point across in the most effective way.
We as adults spend our lives living with both the negative and positive affects of our parents, siblings and the other significant people in our lives. So make sure you pass on as many positive things to your children as you can and just taking a second or two to reflect on how best to handle your children in everyday situations.
There is nothing on this earth as precious as a child, they are priceless, each one is totally unique and our future lies in their hands.
Remember, one day they'll choose your nursing home !!!