How to Communicate When You're at a Loss for Words Share +

Posted by: coronadosafe 2 weeks ago

Now that school is back in session, it may feel as if chaos is slowly beginning to erupt around you.  Managing the demands of work (in or outside of your home), scheduling activities, and of course fielding your kids’ day-to-day needs becomes every parent’s top priorities at the start of the new school year.  All of these responsibilities and commitments can easily leave you feeling totally drained with not much energy left to feed your very best parental encouragement and wisdom and guidance into your children.  

You’re only human after all, and there is no doubt that the start of the school year is an exhausting transition for everyone

Often times you might even feel stuck starting difficult conversations with their kids.  Whether it’s your four-year-old child starting “big kid” school or your teenager kicking off their high school career, finding time to really talk and connect one on one can be tough.  The pressure to find the right words to say while being “kind yet firm” or “helpful but not overbearing” leaves many parents lost in verbal communication overload.   

But what if, for a moment, we consider how nonverbal forms of communication are proven to be more effective (and longer lasting) than the actual words we say?  

Nonverbal communication is so powerful. “Your child’s whole day can turn on something you’re not even cognizant of, something that’s not even said.” (Siegel & Bryson, 2016).  When our kids make a mistake, it’s the furrowed brow they see first, and the harsh tone they hear second.  If our teenager comes to us stressed out, it’s our empathetic eyes and gentle touch that console her, not the “encouraging” words that she may interpret as being “not enough.”  

Dan Siegel mentions seven forms of non-verbal communication: eye contact, facial expression, tone of voice, posture, gestures, timing, and intensity.  Individually, these words may not mean much, but collectively, they play an instrumental role in how we connect with and validate our children.  As parents, we’re constantly a model to our children who are like sponges that soak up everything we exert.  So, if our body language is sending a certain message, our children are first to pick up on it and use it to make sense of their behavior.  Nonverbal communication then leads to helping our children regulate their emotions and imprints in their brains what is acceptable, and most importantly what can – and should! – be repeated. 

The next time you feel at a literal loss of words, it is our hope that you utilize some of the simple, but powerful tools of thoughtfully communicating through your body language.  Remember: it’s the intentionality in which we approach difficult conversations that send the most reverberating message of all to our children.