Want to connect with your child more? Here’s a simple parenting trick you can start doing: when talking to your little one, kneel or squat down to his eye level.
Being on the same eye level with your child helps him feel safer and more in control. You show that you’re giving him your full attention. It also signals that you’re willing and ready to engage with him.
“Active listening is one of the most important ways you can send the message, 'You're important to me.' Get down on the child's level, lean in and make eye contact,” child development expert Gill Connellwrites in A Moving Child Is a Learning Child.
It’s not only good for your child. It helps you, too, according to Anthony D. Koutsoftas, PhD. By being on the same eye level with your child, you see what he sees, explained Koutsoftas to Smartparenting.com.ph. You experience learning from his vantage point and perspective, helping you to understand your child better.
If you still need convincing, here’s Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, talking to her and Prince William’s son George. The couple are often photographed practicing this parenting move with him.
Here’s Prince William at it. The photo was taken during Prince George’s first meeting with U.S. President Barrack Obama at the Kensington Palace. Notice that the President is doing it as well.
This move, plus engaging your child during conversation (by smiling, nodding and showing emotion), fosters self-esteem, says Connell. It also encourages him to communicate even more. We want our children to feel like they can talk to us about anything, right?
Want to be better at talking to your toddler? Here are a few more tips on how your child can benefit and grow simply from the way you talk to him: 1. Point out emotions When your child is upset, like when you tell him it's time to clean up his toys, describe what he's feeling to him. Say something like, “That made you angry, huh?” or “I can see you're upset.” It will help him understand that it's normal to experience strong emotions. And by going through them with him, he will learn how to process the feelings he's having at an early age. When he's older, he'll be able to tell you “This makes me happy!” or “I'm sad.” 2. Pay attention to gestures. Very young kids only know and say a few words. Even so, talking and communicating is important at this stage. If your child is this young, pay attention to the gestures she makes and make a conversation out of that. If your child points to the fridge, say something like “You want a drink?” then wait for a nod or a yes from her. Continue by giving her options of what drink she would like, water or milk. This way she's encouraged to communicate and talk more.
3. Don't mind mispronunciation Toddlers and young preschoolers mispronounce words. Instead of focusing on how your child pronounces his words, focus on what he's trying to say. This will help your child feel more confident talking to you.