You look at me and you tell me so much even before you say a word.
You sit next to me and I feel how you feel, even before you look at me or say a word to me.
I look into the rear-view mirror at a traffic light and I can get a sense of your mood even when you are in the car behind mine.
Please tell me if that’s all not true? Hasn’t it happened to you more times than you remember?
My next question is…. Do we only communicate using words?
No…actually most of our communication comes from our expressions, our gestures, our body language, our tone of voice.
If that is true, then why is it that we are single minded in our focus on getting children to speak? Why is it that we get so worked up when our child of 3 years is not talking? All because it is a mile-stone to be achieved or is it a yardstick for being ‘normal’?
In my many years of working in the field of education, I have met with many verbal children who speak very well and articulate beautifully and were still struggling. They struggled in school and in social settings. They struggled to make friends, have friends and keep friends. They struggled to fit in and the harder they tried, the more awkward they became. Simply put, their communication skills were impacted. They had the speech or ability to sound out words and they had the vocabulary to use but their communication skills were not developed. They struggled with others non verbal communication- they either didn’t understand it or they missed it completely. For example, a peer says ‘hi!’ to Jim and he rolls his eyes at the same time. Jim misses what he did with his eyes and only responds to the’ hi!’ .
So let’s talk about communication and why its important.
Babies start communicating from the time they are in the womb. They continue to build on it after they are born. They start understanding the different touches and the different looks they get. They also figure out how to communicate how they are feeling by the different cries and gurgles they make. It builds from there. But there comes that stage in their developmental chart when they are supposed to start talking or using meaningful words. And if that doesn’t happen, the troubles start. For them…..Because then all their communications get over shadowed by the worry of not using words.
Human beings are social creatures and communicating is a very important aspect of being human.
-It is a basic human need- to be heard and understood.
-Relationships are defined by the level of communication shared.
-Relationships define the quality of life we enjoy.
-The better the relationships, the happier we are as human beings.
-And when we hear another, listen beyond words to another and communicate our understanding, we show respect for that person. And that person can be a 1 year old, a 14 year old, a 70 year old. That person can be verbal or non-verbal. That person can be girl or boy. That person can be typical or atypical.
-When we feel heard and listened to, we feel respected. Respect makes the relationship beautiful.
So let us focus on building communication skills as we work with children. They will grow into a community that respects and values.