Hey Mom – Are Your Kids Learning to Be Good Communicators? - A Guest Post by Lynn Banis

Monday, October 18, 2010

Do you ever wonder about what all of the solo video games, text messaging and computer based pass-times are doing to our children's communication skills? I do and I bet you do too. I am not saying that we should ban such things - we couldn't even if we wanted to. They are too much a part of our society and of our kids' expectations and experience for us to do that. We do run the risk though, of having generations of children who have not learned to carry on a deep, articulate and comprehensive dialogue with another individual or group of people. That concerns me.

It is not only the lack of communication skills that has me worried and wondering, it is the result of that lack that is scary. If we cannot and do not communicate that can lead to isolation and loneliness - not a very bright picture for the future. We live in a global economy and need to be building a global community and that will mean that we need excellent communication skills to bring together the vast array of beliefs and customs of the world's cultures.

Another, very important, loss could be that we do not uncover and encourage the individual gifts that each person brings to their life and the lives of others. What a loss that would be to humanity and to our children! Imagine living in a world of loneliness, isolation and where you did not feel you had anything to give!

What can you as a parent do to help your children grow in their communication skills? Hopefully you are already aware of and involved in what they are learning in school. If your child's school is not demanding enough of children's growth as communicators you and other parents can address that. There are also some things you can do at home to enhance your kid's communication abilities. Use dinner time to engage the whole family in dialogue and deep conversation. Teach your kids to participate and to ask thoughtful questions. Help them learn to really listen and engage others in meaningful discussions. Include their friends in conversation when they are at your house and provide games and activities that will require them to talk with each other, to use their imaginations and to create things together. Help them improve their oral problem solving abilities with cool toys like legos and the like.

I would love to hear your take on this issue. Please leave a comment of observation - it would be fun to push this conversation forward.

Lynn Banis PhD, MCC is known as America's High Performance Coach. Lynn specializes in helping women in leadership positions or wanting to be in leadership positions make the most of their opportunities and potential. She enjoys helping executives and entrepreneurs create their ultimate impact. Her years of working with small and large businesses has given her a depth of knowledge that is invaluable to her clients both as a business and a life coach.

Lynn is the autor of two books "The Discovery Journal" and "Discovery Points: A Coaching Guide to Getting Unstuck." Both can be obtained under Lynn's name at http://www.lulu.com. You can reach her at http://www.discoverypointcoaching.com. Also check out Lynn's other businesses: Coach Academy Texas, a cutting edge coach training company; and Turnkey Coaching Solutions, a coaching program management and contract coach staffing company.

Read more posts from the Hey Mom Series here, here and here, or click on the "Parenting" tab under Labels in my side bar. Moms work hard and deserve encouragement! Please share this post with other Moms you know.

Sarah Familia said...

I think the reason screen time hurts communication skills is that it robs children of their desire to connect with others by giving them an artificial "connection" that seems to satisfy them for the moment.

Children thirst to connect and communicate with others. For example, we recently moved to Italy. I tried to teach my children Italian beforehand, but they just weren't interested. Within a few weeks of arriving here, they spontaneously began speaking - in short words and sentences at first, but with growing fluency every day. The difference? They really felt the desire to communicate with the people around them, and suddenly Italian became interesting to them.

When children's interactions are largely with a computer, T.V., phone, or other electronic device, they feel comfortable speaking the "language" of typing and texting. It's hard to draw them out into the language of feeling and sharing with a real human being, because it seems so much harder, just as Italian seemed too hard for my children when they were comfortable in their English environment.

The challenge, then, is to foster the need for communication by making sure children find themselves in situations where communicating with people will make their life easier and more fulfilling. The reality is, sometimes that means turning off whatever electronic "language" they're used to using so that they can refocus on the real language of interpersonal communication.

Liz Mays said...

There are some wonderful games designed to spark conversations which might help. A lot of is just practice!


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