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Encourage Communication and Esteem In Children By Listening

“My skin is black and this is black and you can’t see it.” Your skin is brown and the ink is black which is why it shows up on your skin and you’re able to see it, I say. She says,” My skin is brown and the ink is black and that’s why it’s only going to last 15 minutes.” I said “OK” and she walked away.

The above conversation is one that I had with one of my preschoolers at a summer camp in Paterson. This is a typical conversation that I have with my students. Many of the conversations that I have with them do not make any sense like the one above. Sometimes the words that are spoken are not words yet just baby babble or toddler babble.

None of this matters. It doesn’t matter whether I understand every word or not or even if the child even uses words that are comprehensible. What does matter is that the child had something that was important to them that they wanted to express. I acknowledged this importance and by my attentive listening gave them an opportunity to express themselves and be heard and understood.

I often wonder if some children are shy becauseĀ  early in life people, not meaning to, didn’t listen to them or pay attention and just wrote off their babbling as gibberish. They didn’t see it as a valuable for of communication that encourages children to realize that they matter, they have something of value to contribute and helps children to feel good about themselves and comfortable around others.


So the next time your child or students waddles up to you and starts making some crazy sounds that you can’t seem to make out as English, German, or some other language, here are some powerful words you can use: “Really ?”, not the sarcastic way that people are using lately, “OK”, “Hmmm”, “That’s interesting.”, ” And what else.”, “Alright”, “Wow!”. All of these words help children to feel heard and important. They encourage children to communicate and because they feel good being heard it builds their esteem. Make sure to look them in the eyes and if possible get down on their level.

So I hope you feel comfortable in trying this with your students or children. It will go along way and mean so much. You will be helping to develop happy and confident children that will grow into happy and confident adults. Please feel free to share your thoughts and your experiences. I would love to hear from you.

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