"Talking Points": communicating with kids (part 2)
We are continuing our series of posts from veteran educator and interview coach Charlie Margolis. Charlie is providing tips for teachers and parents that may help when communicating with children. Yesterday we posted PART 1 ... now onto PART 2 below!
Be the Adult
A close friend was feeling conflicted when it came to dealing with her elderly and declining parents. She asked me what she should do. My response was, “Be the adult.” That means making decisions which are not necessarily popular, even though they are in the best interest of the child or- in this instance - the elderly parent. Many parents abdicate their responsibility as adults, preferring the easier path of being their children’s “friend.” They bargain with their children as though they were negotiating for higher wages. Adults should help children understand that there is a clear distinction between adult and child. The adult is responsible for the child’s well being. Communicate competence, confidence and good intentions through your parenting. Having a parent who is in-charge helps a child feel safe and secure.
The petulant child let go an angry barrage of insults aimed directly toward her mother. The obviously frazzled woman, turned and said, “Well, she’s just having a bad day.” Children need to understand what is appropriate and inappropriate to say. The process of teaching children impulse control and social boundaries is ongoing. Making excuses for bad behavior does not help anyone. Everything a child thinks should not be everything a child says. That goes for adults, too.
When I was young, my parents made me address my elders as Mr., Miss or Mrs. I still heed the lesson whenever I can. Somewhere along the way, the concept of civility seems to have been lost. Nothing is out of bounds when it comes to vitriolic talk radio personalities, reality TV or social network postings. The prevailing attitude seems to be, “say anything you want,” without regard to courtesy or consideration. I have seen drivers explode in anger; people come into elegant restaurants looking like they had just run a 5K and listened to ill-tempered shoppers vent their frustrations on unfortunate clerks. Teaching good manners begins early. Children need to learn, at an early age, that what they say and how they behave toward others is important. There is no excuse for bad manners or inconsiderate behavior. Hold children to a high standard and they will live-up to it. Teach children respect and to treat other people as they would like to be treated.
An Overinflated Balloon
In the early 70’s, the self-esteem movement swept through schools faster than the flu in February. Students were praised, encouraged and rewarded for giving right answers, wrong answers or no answers. There were games without winners and winners without games. The reigning theory held that there was no such thing as too much self-esteem. The result has been several generations of self-absorbed and inconsiderate, children, who literally think “the world owes them a living.” Of course, this is not an indictment of all children. It is the result of research and observation. Children who exhibit unusually high self esteem tend to hold themselves in high regard, while holding a low opinion of others. People with high self-esteem tend to overestimate their abilities and cope poorly when things do not go their way. Self-esteem cannot be injected like a vaccine. Praise is like candy; a little is wonderful, but unlimited quantities diminish dull the taste. Confidence and competence are earned through trial and error. A balanced self concept contains a dose of confidence, resilience and humility.
Want more "Talking Points"?
Thank you Charlie for sharing your insight. More on ways we can effectively communicate with children in PART 3 ... read on!
Top photo credit: 2011 Dennis Brunelle
Charlie is Executive Director of Interview Image Associates, LLC. The firm specializes in preparing political candidates, pageant contestants, job aspirants and college applicants for interviews, speeches and presentations.