The relationship between you and your little one will thrive if it's supported by healthy communication. Your baby may have yet to utter her first word, your toddler may struggle through complex sentences or your preschooler might want to discuss seemingly random topics, but it's never to early to start cultivating an atmosphere of open and mutually respectful communication.
1. Poor Language Skills Development
Failing to talk to your child can lead to delays in language development. Your little one needs someone to help her convert saying "deuce" to saying "juice," and learn how to use words in the right context -- skills she'll acquire through communication with you. While there are several theories about how young children's language develops, Ohio Northern University Prof. Sandra Crosser says that the environment a child spends most of his time in is the most critical to language development. If your child can't find the words to express her anger or frustration, she may just use her fists or feet -- whatever helps her get her point across. Talk to your child often -- in the grocery store, in the car or over dinner -- and encourage her to talk to you about anything that her little mind fancies.
2. Weak Emotional Bonding
Communication between parent and child helps strengthen your emotional bond -- and helps your child feel safe and secure -- while a lack of communication can create distance, trust issues, and emotional problems. Psychotherapist and child custody expert Dr. Peter Ernest Haiman says bonding between the primary caregiver and a child -- typically a child's mother -- lays the foundation for future relationships and behaviors. Talking with your child shows her that you're present for her, care about what she has to say and shows you're interested in getting to know her as an individual.
3. Behavioral Problems
Children who lack the vocabulary to express difficult emotions may have an increased risk of behavioral issues. For example, a frustrated child who can't communicate her frustration verbally may use force to defend herself and set boundaries with others, or use aggression to communicate frustration with learning new tasks. According to the website, "Talking Point," kids also act out when their parents don't communicate with them about the impact their actions have on others, which can lead to excessive playground brawls. When you don't talk to your child about using her words and how her behavior affects others, it'll be difficult to teach her to keep her hands to herself.
4. Conflict Resolution
Healthy communication helps both you and your child to find effective ways to manage conflicts -- even the small ones you'll inevitably encounter with a toddler, such as saying "No!" to eating her vegetables or balking at the idea of leaving home for daycare or school. Effective communication helps resolve these types of conflicts while modeling the art of conflict resolution in the process. Australia's "Child and Youth Health" website offers conflict resolution tips that you can impart to your child, such as understanding the problem, refraining from screaming or shouting, working together and focusing on a solution.
- Virginia Cooperative Extension: Families First - Keys to Successful Family Functioning: Communication
- The University of Maine: Cooperative Extension Publications: Winning Ways to Talk to Young Children
- Earlychildhood NEWS: Enhancing the Language Development of Young Children
- Peter Haiman: Effects of Separation on Young Children: Implications for Family Court Decision Making
- Talking Point: How Speech, Language and Communication Needs can Lead to Behavioral Difficulties
- Child and Youth Health: Kids' Health: Conflict Resolution
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