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The Sweet Sound of Children

November 2, 2009
Times Observer
BY MARY ELLEN CARLSON, DIRECTOR HERITAGE HOUSE CHILDCARE & LEARNING CENTER

“The art of parenting is to teach the art of living to children.” – E. Heffner

Please, thank you, excuse me, etc. are words all parents and caregivers want to hear their children speak. They are words that all of us want to hear from one another. Teaching children the importance of social skills is most directly done by example.

Children are always paying attention to what you say and do in most situations. They are constantly observing your reactions in various circumstances. They watch how you treat other members of your family; they watch how you treat the next-door neighbor and the cashier at the store. They watch how you talk to others on the phone. The list goes on and on. Young children mimic their parents, guardians, older siblings and the adults in their lives.

Signing, please and thank you is a great way to start courteous language development in infants. Before infants can verbalize they are able to sign. When signing a word you should also verbalize the word. As the child develops and uses the sign he/she will naturally associate the verbal word. Speaking to infants and toddlers in a respectful manner is important.

Children will respond to your tone of voice on instinct. They will pick up on your positive intonation when they listen to you speak. This is where the beginning of positive communication takes place. Most of us model our parent’s/guardian’s speech habits, which is really an attitude or inner state. Be careful to take notice of habitual intentions, notice what you are really communicating with your voice tone. Self-awareness is of the utmost importance.

Stated in the Chronicles, Voice Tone in Communication, “As far as the world is concerned, you are your voice tone. And if you’ve studied the basics of communication, you know that WHAT you say doesn’t carry nearly as much meaning as HOW you say what you say. Experts say that something like 55% of your message is communicated through your body language, 38% is communicated through the tone of your voice, while ONLY 7% is communicated through the actual content. When you are aware of this, it becomes pretty obvious. What does this mean? Quite simply that what you say has next to no impact on the meaning behind your communication. The message is really transferred in the tone of voice you use.”

Communication that is directed in a relaxed, respectful and caring way is a gift given to those children who are witnessing the dialect and/or are the recipients of the dialect.

“Do as I say, not as I do.” is an old saying that really does not work in the case of social skills. Powerful communication and social skills are next to synonymous. Children look to you as their guide and example when it comes to this consequential skill of social grace.

Mary Ellen Carlson has extensive experience in Elementary Education. Before assuming the duties as Director of Heritage House Childcare & Learning Center, she taught at Panama Central School, owned and operated her own home day care, and was the Project Coordinator of “Write Team,” a grant-funded project at the James Prendergast Library.

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