[Melinda Finch is a 30 something mother of two from Dyersburg, TN. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Social Work degree from Tennessee State University. Follow Melinda @sillymi09]
Communication in a Healthy Relationship
Teaching your son to properly communicate will benefit him in many ways. When most people hear the word “communicate,” they think of speaking with someone. However, communication is much more than an exchange of words between two people. Communication in a relationship will determine the length of the relationship as well as the sustainability of said relationship. So, you can see the importance of teaching effective communication techniques.
Sharing Your Feelings
A very important purpose of communication is to relay what you are feeling. There are many emotions on the spectrum of feelings. All feelings are valid. You must first teach your son that his feelings are valid. Second, teach him how to relay those feelings to others.
Improperly communicated feelings can lead to a misunderstanding that could have been avoided if those feelings were properly communicated. Teach your son that it is okay to be angry, happy, sad, embarrassed, or neutral. The important thing is to accept the emotion for what it is and deal with it in a sustainable matter.
If the emotion is anger, it is completely acceptable to be angry. It is a valid human emotion; however, just because you are angry does not mean that you become belligerent and disrespectful. The first step in communicating this anger is to allow a cool down period. Teach your son that during this period, he should acknowledge what he is angry about. Once this is discovered, acknowledgement is required again. He must acknowledge the role he played in the situation that has him angry. This process allows time to calm down and accept responsibility, if any, for what he has done. Once he has reviewed the situation, your son should address the issue by communicating what has been done to him or towards him that he feels was improper.
Timing for Lesson
Many may think it is difficult to do you do this with a one year old. This lesson should start at this age. The first thing is to acknowledge only positive communication. For a one year old, an example can be illustrated through your response to a tantrum.
Once the child has completed his rant and spasm, speak with him about what just happened. For example: “It really makes mommy sad when you behave that way.” Go on to explain why you have made the decision that you made. Explain how it benefits your son.
After you have shared your feelings, allow him the opportunity to say what he would like to say. This teaches that communication is, at least, a two way street and one has to listen as well as speak. Although you may feel that this is a waste of time because of the child’s cognitive abilities, it provides him with an example of a woman, which he loves, properly communicating with him. This communication sets the foundation for what is to be expected of the women to come in his life.
Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication
As your child matures, so should his communication skills. The goal is to teach effective communication in relationships as well as in everyday life. This requires much more than acknowledging feelings. You must teach him how to properly communication non-verbally as well as verbally. This communication consists of body language, tone, tempo, facial expressions and things of that nature.
A poor response to a situation may return as a habit; however; training your son consistently to communicate will teach him over time to have a calm response to most situations. Remember the first step in communicating anger is to allow a cool down period. If consistently reinforced, his body may tense up as a first response, but immediate acknowledgement of feeling will follow and the cool down period will begin. This will relax his body, and your child will let everyone know that he needs time to process what he is feeling.
Now, that you have taught your son how to sustainably communicate his feelings verbally and non-verbally. He has to learn to listen and acknowledge the feelings of others including his mate. An effective communicator acknowledges the feelings of the person he is communicating with. He listens to the concerns of that person. He shares his views when asked, and communicates the truth of what he has experienced.
For example, when my son does something that would justify spanking; I take him into a private area. I explain to him what he has done and why it is necessary for him to get a spanking for his actions. I ask him if he understand the reason why he is being disciplined. I allow him to respond (It’s always “Yes.”) I then ask what he could have done differently in the situation that would not have landed us in this room. He typically explains to me the logic behind the decision he made and what he will do the next time he is faced with the same situation. I explain that I love him and that I am not angry with him just disappointed because his actions reflect my abilities as a mother. I explain that what he did was unacceptable. At no point do I raise my voice. I allow him time to say what he feels he needs to say. He then accepts his punishment.
This is a perfect conflict communication experience for him. I believe the way that I deliver his punishment provides him an opportunity to see proper communication during a time of conflict between him and the woman he currently loves. He learns to communicate under pressure while maintaining his pride and dignity. He is reminded to consider and required to communicate his supporting logic for his actions, and to take responsibility for what he has done. Effective communication is something that is needed throughout life and should be taught as early as possible. It is your job as a mother to ensure that this skill is mastered by your son.