Let them speak! How good communication skills can change our children’s lives

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I admit to dragging my daughter to a few Toastmaster meetings, a venue to practice public speaking. The venue is over an hour commute and involves 3 trains and 2 buses.  It is also in the evenings, which means she has already had a full day at school, done her homework and is tired by the 7pm start.   By the time we get home at 10pm, the kid is exhausted.

 

So why do it?  She is only 8 after all, she doesn’t need to present at any board meetings or lobby the government just yet.

 

Here is one reason….

Last week one of the school Mom’s from my daughter’s class approached me at the school gates.  She told me that my daughter has not been very nice to her daughter.   Apparently she has been calling her child bad names and ignoring her.   I was obviously upset by this news, no mother likes to think of their child as mean.  I suggested that we bring the kids together to discuss their feelings and perhaps understand why there has been a change in behaviour.

We arranged a meeting for the next day.  I intentionally did not tell my daughter about the arrangement until 20 minutes before we left the house, I didn’t want to give her too much time to think up excuses.

Its 8:30am and we arrive at the picnic table to begin ‘The Talk’.

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Here’s how it went down:

School mom: ‘Jane (the friend), you told me that you are sad because JT’s daughter has not been very nice to you lately.  Can you tell us what has upset you?

Jane: ‘’umm………….’’ Silence.  ‘’Well………………….’’ Silence.  ‘’It’s just’’………….…’’ Silence.

2 minutes pass…

School mom: ‘’Come on Jane, tell her what she has done to hurt your feelings’’.

Jane: ‘’Ummmmm…………………….I dunno’’

An uncomfortable silence followed.

Me:  “Daughter, can you think of anything that you have done to upset Jane?  Perhaps share what has inspired this rift in your friendship?”

My daughter:  ‘’YES I can explain’’ she says calmly ‘’Jane, you have been moody with me since school began this year.  Sometimes you want to play with me, sometimes you don’t.  It really just depends on your mood of the moment.  To be very honest, it has hurt my feelings…alot, and so I have decided to ignore you when you are in one of your bad moods.  I also decided to stop trying to be your friend when you clearly don’t want to be mine.”

My daughter breathes and continues.  ‘’Last week, while I was playing with another friend, you grabbed me and wanted to play with me alone.  I didn’t think that was fair to my other friend.  I was also annoyed with the way you have treated me over the last few weeks, so I told you that I did not want to play with you.  I may have said that rudely, and I am sorry for that, but I think that I am still angry at you.”

Jane and Jane’s mom are both staring at us in shock… their mouths slighted ajar.

Me:  “Thank you darling.  Well said.  Jane, what do you think?”

Jane: “I had not thought about it like that.  I am really sorry.”

My daughter: “I am sorry too.”

End of conversation.  End of argument.

I cannot tell a lie, I was super proud of my baby that day.  She spoke eloquently and confidently.  But more importantly, I realised that my daughter has acquired a skill that she will need throughout her life.  The skill of honest and clear communication.  Jane will not be the last person with whom she will argue.  Every one clashes from time to time and we rely on the art of communication to help us to resolve our differences.  I believe that my daughter is well on her way to mastering this art.

Perhaps yours can too?

 

Thanks for reading,

 

JT

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