Prime Your Children for Success
Many skills can boost your children’s success, but the ability to communicate well is one of the most important. Effective communication will boost your children’s chance of success in personal life and vocational life.
- Clear communication will enable your children to effectively express their needs and ideas.
- Effective communication will empower your children to manage their emotions, harnessing the energy of emotion to work toward a goal they can clearly express.
- Effective communication involves listening. Good listeners gain a better understanding of other people’s needs and ideas. They respond to those needs and ideas in a practical and useful manner. This decreases conflict.
- Effective communicators listen in a way that builds relationship and leads to greater intimacy.
- Effective communicators learn better. They listen well and know how to clearly and politely ask for clarification when needed.
Knowing effective communication is essential to your children’s success is one thing; but, how can we teach them to listen well and express thoughts clearly? As with most skills we want our children to learn, the most efficient way to teach them is through every day activities and games. Let me share some examples.
- The next time you take your children to the park or a local ice cream shop, let them give you the directions to your destination. Follow their directions to the letter, encouraging them to clarify as needed.
- Play telephone. You know the game. Everyone stands in a circle. The first person whispers a message into the ear of another person, who whispers it in the ear of the next person, and so on around the circle until the message is whispered one final time into the ear of the person who started the process. Will the message remain the same? Depends on how well we listen and how clearly we repeat a message.
- Simon Says is another game that promotes good listening.
- Take turns telling stories during dinner. You can tell stories about “a day in our life” or share stories you have read, watched on TV, or heard from others.
- Play games based on the development and acting out of stories. Playing dolls, dress up, teacher, princess, or mom offer wonderful opportunities to develop communication skills. Encouraging your children to put on a play is another example of activities with a strong theme of communication.
- Allow your children to blindfold you and your spouse. After you are sufficiently blindfolded, they can give each of you a bowl of ice cream. Then, your children can verbally direct you in feeding one another. You might want to start with something less messy…like popcorn.
- Encourage your child to speak politely and clearly when ordering in a restaurant. This includes making good eye contact and enunciating while remaining polite.
- Role play approaching a clerk or teacher with a concern or complaint. You play the clerk or teacher and coach your children in voicing their concern and complaint. Then, accompany them to meet with this person. Let them do the speaking. Your presence merely offers support.
As you can see, these ideas represent every day activities and games. I’ve listed only a few ideas; I’m sure you can think of many more. When you do these activities, you will have fun learning to communicate. You will have provided your child with practical experience in effective communication. You have primed them for success.