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loudly because of her tone more than
from the meaning of the word. “For
this reason, parents should be careful
with their tone and volume when
talking,” she states, and remember that
parents also communicate through
their body posture and gestures. Babies
and toddlers want to stay close to mom
and dad as these are ways that he/she
feels loved and safe. “Hugging, holding
and cuddling is a communicative way
to reassure your child and tell him that
you love him,” she says. And essentially,
parents adapt to their children’s ages
accordingly and learn to talk like they
do, using songs and chanting rhymes
to communicate and give instruction.
“An example is asking a toddler to pick
up toys by singing a ‘clean up song’
and in fact, most of moms sing and use
a playful tone to communicate with
their children,” points out Risoli, and
in fact, this is actually very positive and
functional because it helps children
better memorize instructions and rules
in a playful way and become more
cooperative. To further enrich your
toddler’s language and vocabulary, she
advises to not stop talking, even if you
are not sure if your child understands
what you are saying; do not stop
talking to him or her.
Five Years Old to Pre-teen
School age kids spend more time at
school than at home so if you want to
communicate with them, Risoli says
that you will have to find time for
them and you have to make an effort
to spend quality time together. She
explains, “Your school age children do
not like to be threatened like babies
so you have to change your tone when
speaking to them. An effective key to
communicate with them is to be clear
and direct, avoiding open questions
or comments, but focusing on details
of their life at school and home.” This
stage of children is not as sensitive to
your tone or volume of voice as before
but they pay attention to the content
of what you are saying, so try always
to be assertive, firm and emotionally
controlled when you are unhappy. And
when you are proud of him or her, be
positive and convincing.
The Teenager
Teenage years are a moment of
transition when your kids are
becoming more mature and are
looking for independence. “They often
become more introverted and private
and have difficulty opening up to their
parents,” she notes therefore mom
and dad should make an extra effort
to praise them and make them feel
comfortable with themselves. Risoli
adds that if your son/daughter does not
feel like talking, you cannot force the
teenager but instead remind him/her
that you are interested in how he/she
feels. Show interest and give them time,
do not press or control. “Gaining their
trust is a long and complex process that
starts from childhood,” she says and
healthy and positive families are those
in which respect and free exchange or
feelings and ideas are promoted from
the beginning. She advises to aim to
understand their feelings before judging
them and involve them and talk to
them, instead of waiting for them to
come to you. “Also ask questions and
pay attention to their words and silence,
and choose the right time to talk to
them,” she says, if however the teen is
upset, let him or her calm down and do
not attack with a barrage of questions...
they will not answer, they will just get
more and more upset and close up.
Why It Matters
Communication, emphasizes Risoli,
is not only an exchange of words, but
also understanding each other’s feelings
even without words. And this cannot
happen when we are chatting on the
computer or text messaging. “Family
relationships help children learn how
to communicate verbally and non-
verbally,” she explains and non-verbal
communication is a fundamental aspect
of human and animal communication.
Further adding, “While on Facebook
you can click on ‘I like’, however in
real life you can look at your child
and with a smile you can say many
more things that a click of your mouse
cannot communicate...” The bottom
line, stresses Risoli, is that if we do not
promote real communication amongst
people, within families and social
groups, the future generations’ society
will be made up of people unable to talk
to each other, a society of individuals
unaware of the existence of other
people around, and ultimately a society
burdened with loneliness.
Apr/May 2014