Learning is a constant trial and error activity with positive outcomes as a goal. With that in mind, it becomes imperative that we, as adults working with children, provide encouragement. That includes monitoring our words and body language.
A parenting magazine as well as www.kidshealth.com agree, suggesting that we think about how our split second comments can impact children long after our words and ‘looks’ have ended.
Think about how the following comments affect you:
the drawn out ‘yes”with the person’s arms crossed or he/she isn’t looking at you
“Why can’t you be like…” said with eyebrows drawn close or eyes squinting
“You know better than that.” again with a stern face and body language
“If you do that again, I’ll…”
“Hurry up!” with eye rolls or crossed arms or foot tapping
Few children want to incur our dissatisfaction. They want our support. Most often they don’t know that their actions are causing us stress or concern. If we stop, and rethink our actions/reactions, we can provide support for their misunderstanding or lack of knowledge. It only takes a few extra seconds to turn a negative answer into a positive outcome.
Try turning your first reaction into an action-inviting response:
Rethink your words. Make eye contact as you speak. Speak using open-ended responses that encourage dialogue instead of shutting it down.
“If you can wait a second, I’ll be able to give you my full attention.”
“Did you think this through? Can you make a better choice?”
“Let me show you how to get that started.” or “Can you think of a way to be proactive when you handle this?”
“What can I do to help you so we can leave?”
Stop. Think instead of react. Sometimes it’s what you don’t say that makes all the difference in the world!