Neha (name changed for confidentiality) is a 10 year old and like most 10 year olds, she likes playing with friends in the neighbourhood and being around her mum when mama gets home from work. But mama was often busy with Neha’s little sister, work demands, home management and various nuances of family relationships. She often felt Neha was getting in her way and would advise Neha to be more independent.
Little did mama realise that she was missing out on some of what Neha was trying to communicate to her, till Neha fell ill. The initial fear was that Neha had contracted Covid however it was not. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise as Neha finally got her mother’s undivided attention as she lay on the hospital bed. Neha opened up to mama and she told her about the abuse she has been going through for a while, by a family member.
For most children, mothers are the go-to person – a safe space or the comfort zone. However, with several urgent and important needs vying for their attention, mothers can miss out one of the key aspects of good parenting – regular, open communication with their child. This often takes a back seat as other pressing matters get priority and life goes by.
In day-to-day life, communication within family systems specially with children, can get equated to teaching or giving instructions, whereas a huge part of effective communication has to do with non-judgemental, attentive listening. This involves listening keenly to both the verbal and non-verbal content being expressed by the child.
Effective communication of this kind takes place when you spend quality or focussed time with a child. If you are able to strive for this from early childhood, it also helps you set the stage for your child to approach you as they grow into teenagers.
If we are able to inculcate this habit right from the start, it makes it easier for the child to approach you and let you know about events in his/her life, which in turn will help you provide the best parenting you can.
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