Why does communication with my child matter?

Question:

Why does communication with my child matter?

 

Answer:

Communication with your child matters because your child matters.  Communication is a foundational stone of your relationship. 

 

It takes practice and consistency that will build a strong relationship, and communication with them in the early years that only deepens as they age.  This strong relationship will be instrumental in teen years as they begin to experience more of the world.

 

Heart

Communication with your child also matters because communication matters and is valued by God.

 

God’s value for communication and heart for families begins in Genesis 1, when He spoke into existence the world, plants, animals, man and woman, and proclaimed His creation very good!

 

God walked daily with Adam and Eve in the garden, speaking to them, teaching them, and loving them.  (Genesis 2:15-17; Genesis 3)

 

Just as with our children, God’s relationship was strong with Adam and Eve because he walked and talked with them daily, building and nurturing that relationship.

 

He created us as individuals, with families and communities, to help support and build each other up, not with just physical help but also spiritual help.

 

Sounds of Comfort

Communication with your child begins while they are in the womb.  Afterall, you are the first and regular voice they hear and the first important relationship they will have!

 

I remember being pregnant for the first time and hearing that you should talk and read to your baby while you are pregnant.  Wait…what!?

 

My initial thought was, “that’s weird; no way I am doing that!”  I found, however, that as my pregnancy progressed, so did my bond with my baby, and I gave in to the idea that maybe, just maybe, he could hear me.

 

At around 18 weeks of pregnancy, your unbornbaby will start being able to hear sounds in your body like your heartbeat. At 27 to 29 weeks (6 to 7 months),theycan hear some sounds outside your body too, like your voice. By the time they arefull term, they will be able to hear at about the same level as an adult. In other words, this is a great time to start reading and singingto them.[1] 

 

Countless times my husband would walk in and ask in bewilderment, “Who are you talking to?”, and I had to ensure him I in fact was not talking to myself but to his unborn son.

 

Remarkably Made

You know, it truly is overwhelming to think how God has created the intricate parts of our bodies, like our brains.  Not only can babies hear inside the womb, their little brains are working too!

 

Babies not only recognize and are comforted by your voice when they are born, they also recognize those familiar books your read and music you played! In my experience, as my children aged, it is those songs I sang while pregnant or in the wee hours of the night that they still find joy and comfort in.

I smile as I recollect sitting on the couch with headphones snug to my belly. Baby Einstein Baby Mozart was one of our favorite CDs. Later it was the DVD to dance to and talk about colors, fish, and all the fun things that would dance around the screen.

 

You can find a full episode on YouTube here, compliments of Baby Einstein.

 

Today, our teenager enjoys most genres of music and has an insane gift of being able to hear a jingle or song and transpose it to the keyboard with little effort.

 

Music is not only a comfort for him but also a release.  It is mind blowing to see him in action!

 

So, keep on singing and dancing and talking to yourself, momma!  You are making a huge impact on your little miracle!

 

What Communication Can Look like

Communication can be your voice, your facial expressions, gestures, your touch, your active presence in the life of your child.  This interaction wires their brain to establishes their first sense of security in life and trust with adults.

 

Without it, studies have proven that the child is altered negatively biologically, cognitively, psychosocially, and behaviorally.[2]

 

Communication matters because kids learn by watching. Watching what you do.  Hearing what you say and how you say it.  Watching how you react to different situation.

 

Play time is a child’s love language and the best way to practice communication, build those relationships, and talk about God’s Word along the way.  Lifeway has a fabulous resource called Wholly Kids that covers these topics and more.

 

Communication by age

Birth-One:

Babies use non-verbal and vocal communication.  Children are learning language, even as babies, so avoiding “baby talk” is better for learning pronunciation.

 

Floor time is a great way to interact and communicate.   Your expressed excitement is infections and in turn your child will enjoy the interaction as they learn.

 

Point and talk about colors, shapes, animals, people, parts of their bodies.  Real-life pictures of animals and people help children connect what they are learning to the world around them.

 

Twos-Threes:

At this age, their vocabulary has expanded, and you will begin to hear them speak more and more.  They are also becoming more advanced in motor skills.

 

Games such as matching or lace cards are great for this age.  Anything that works the hand-eye coordination.  This could be something as easy as placing colored cubes in a cup.

 

Use more hands-on experiences, such as a petting zoo to associate an animal’s name with the texture of the animal’s fur.  A children’s museum is also an excellent way to help stimulate and encourage the use of the growing gross motor skills.

 

Fours-Fives:

As a Preschool Associate and mom of now teens, I find joy in all ages and stages of development, but I would say fours and fives are one of my favorites!  At this age, their little personalities are really showing!

 

They are much more active, learning to get along well in small groups, passionate about their friends’ feelings and aware of their own, but what’s most fun is to hear them tell stories!

 

Be super expressive as you read or interact with them.  You can never be too silly for this age group.  They will eat it up!  Encourage them to retell a story.  You could even dress up in costume and put on a play.

 

Practice Communication

Life is busy, so as parents, we have to be intentional of communication and making conversation times.

 

Prospective conversation times:

  • In the car
  • At the dinner table
  • At the park
  • Before bedtime
  • Plan a “date” with your child

 

Conversation points for young children:

  • When you are on a walk outside:
    • Talk about God’s love for them (1John 3:14, John 3:16).
    • Remind them God made them unique. (Psalm 139:13-14)
    • He shows that love through Creation.  Point to flowers, talk about the vibrant colors and unique smells of each.  Lie down in the park or backyard and look at the clouds.
    • Tell them about Adam and Eve in the garden; how God walked and talked with them.  Explain some ways God talks to you. Encourage them to listen to the birds and waves of the water.  Even Creation speaks to God!
  • When you see someone in need:
    • Talk about how Jesus helped others.  He healed some and fed others.
    • Having a bag in your car with necessities or snacks is always helpful in unexpected interactions.
    • Pray outload with your children for that person.
    • Show that person love.
      • Make eye contact and acknowledge them.
    • Take the opportunity to show your children how to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
      • Pray over the person one on one.
      • Buy them a meal or necessities.
      • Give money if the Holy Spirit prompts so.

 

No matter what stage of parenthood you find yourself in, keep the communication line open and going!  You are planting seeds of truth and identity in Christ, one conversation at a time.  Communication matters!

 

 

 

References:

[1] Shu, Jennifer. “Ask The Pediatrician: When can my unborn baby hear me?  I’d love to be able to read and sing to them.” Healthychildren.org, 2021. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/tips-tools/ask-the-pediatrician/Pages/I%E2%80%99m-pregnant-and-would-like-to-sing-to-my-unborn-baby.aspx. 04/02/2024.

[2] Committee on Child Maltreatment Research, Policy, and Practice for the Next Decade: Phase II; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Committee on Law and Justice; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council; Petersen AC, Joseph J, Feit M, editors. New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2014 Mar 25. 4, Consequences of Child Abuse and Neglect. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK195987/

 

 

 

Tiffany Ward

Tiffany Ward

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