This was a 16-month old girl’s mother who had brought her to my clinic for the complaint of redness cum itching of the private parts. It was obvious that I had to examine the child for treating correctly.
S, Ananya’s mother started pulling down her pantie to expose the diaper when I stopped her and said, “You have to use such occasions to talk to the child and inculcate right habits”.
S was perplexed – “Doc! Now what I can talk while undressing her?”
I took her out of the cabin and explained that this particular occasion should be used to caution anyone touching her and that she must tell Ananya,
“Ananya, Doctor uncle has to examine you. I must remove your diaper for doctor uncle to see you. We know that only momma should open the diaper and touch you here; no one else! If anyone does that, Ananya will tell Momma. Right?”
S went inside the cabin and saying all that prepared Ananya for an examination; I went in and with due respect, that I would show to a woman, examined her without touching and walked out letting S to put on her clothes, still ‘talking’ to her.
S was ecstatic. She had learnt to ‘talk’ to her angel.
Another mother benefited from this ‘talk’ by preparing her 2½ yr son when she was going back to work. “R, Momma has to go to work. R will stay with dadi. R will not trouble dadi” …and so on and so forth… when she started going to work R was ready and dadi had smooth sailing.
8 months later, S walked in beaming with Ananya and announced, “Doctor, Ananya is 2. We cut a cake yesterday and today Ananya is here to take her booster shot”, She looked at Ananya and asked “Aren’t we ready?” Ananya nodded and smilingly climbed up the couch with S’s help. Of course, she cried a bit on being poked but I was happy that one more mother had learnt to talk to her child.
You may ask, “so what is so special; we all talk to our children,” Agreed! There is the difference – we know that communication is of paramount importance – when I say ‘talk’, I mean ‘communicate’ with your child and believe me if you really ‘talk’ to them, you are helping them become good communicators.
Few tips (especially for 1-3 yr):
- When you are ‘talking’ to your child, call them by their full name; no more my sugar, my dolly, my angel, my sweetie pie. Calling by name tells the child, you mean ‘it’!
- Payal, please come here. Mom wants to talk to you…
- Rohan, will you please…
- John, dad says to please come to his room…
Even a 2 yr old can learn and use ‘please’ and you will be teaching him socially correct language
- Make proper eye contact when ‘talking’. If your child is on the floor, bend down till you are at his level and then ‘talk’. Similarly ensure that when your child is ‘talking’ to you, you are giving appropriate eye contact. We know eyes add value to spoken words. Eye contact also helps you pick up that ‘disinterested’ or ‘I don’t understand look’ and alter your approach accordingly.
- Brevity is an art! Be brief. Try to stick to 1-2 sentences when attempting a dialogue. If you keep rambling, child may feel that you are not sure of what you wish to say.
- Use short simple sentences; if not sure, just listen to how children talk and you will learn. Your talk should be befitting your child’s age and understanding. Younger the child, simpler the language.
- Learn to be a good listener especially when your child is throwing a tantrum. ‘Listening’ can be as or more beneficial than ‘talking’.
- The more your child screams, milder should be your response; this helps child ventilate and assurances like ‘yes, I understand’ or ‘yes, you are right’ help.
- Learn to convert your commands (subtly threatening) to dialogue (non-judgmental) by ‘talking’; e.g. ‘you better shut the TV and come for dinner’ should be ‘We are waiting for you, please shut the TV and come’
Create occasions to have a ‘talk’ and you will have a child who ‘communicates’!
Dr Chander Asrani, father to three daughters and grand father to one, is a post graduate in Family Medicine. He has over 35 years in clinical practice, launched www.growingwell.com in 2000 and since then has been writing on various subjects. Know more about him at about.me/drasrani.