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Using Non-Verbal Communication To Support Your Child.

Last Friday I had the pleasure of visiting a school in Llandudno, Wales called St David's College.  St David's is an independent mainstream school that holds inclusion in the heart of what it does.  It is no surprise that students who have been failed by other mainstream schools for many different reasons end up in this beautiful site in North Wales and are treated with respect and understanding which brings out the best in the students.

Whilst this blog post is not going to focus on the school per se , it is going to focus on an experience that I witnessed that reminded me that as parents we shouldn't just talk at our kids when we think that there is a problem.  We should take a step back, watch and reflect upon what we see so that we can help our kids to feel empowered enough to fix their own problems.
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So there I was touring the school and outside one of the classes was a teacher and a student having a heated debate about behaving in class.
I was walking around with the chaplain, Tim Hall, and we waited for the teacher and student to go back in and then he took us in to see the class.

This gave a nice break for everyone in the classroom and Tim asked the student about what had happened.  He did it in an objective way that didn't make the student feel undervalued or intimidated.
As the student talked about what he had 'done wrong' in class, Tim didn't focus on that.  He watched the student and asked him about how he was feeling.  The student said he was tired.  Tim remarked that he thought that the student looked tired and actually looked like he had not slept very well and the student then told Tim how he hadn't slept well.
This lead into a conversation about looking after oneself and how in not doing so we put barriers in our own way to learning.
The way that the conversation went impressed me because the student was clearly linking behaviour and self management and definitely had a penny dropping moment which I hope will help him in the future.

As a parent I realised how much I have reacted in the past to behaviour and have simply missed root causes as an example...

Me: "Come on love, you must read some of this book as reading is an important skill and will help you at school."

Daughter: "But I hate reading!"

Me: " Why won't you listen to me?  You need to be able to read.  Stop avoiding it!"

Daughter: "But I hate it!"

Me: Bashes head against wall in frustration, feels disrespected and unlistened to and once again makes the mistake of trying to push home a point that is going to go nowhere because his daughter feels got at and Dad is totally dealing with the wrong end of the stick!!

I wonder what would have happened if I had said "Tell me about what it is that you hate about reading?" and allowed my child to show me what her problem was....

Tim, watched the student's body language, his non verbal communication that was screaming out "I'm exhausted!"  He was able to use that to talk to the student relevantly about what they were struggling with and not about the resulting behaviour.  It is said that 80% of communication is verbal, I wonder what we are missing if we simply rely on what is said rather than focus on what is unsaid?

If you are feeling that you are butting heads with your child about school rather than empowering them, then know that you are not alone and that all parents go through that frequently.  You do have the choice to take a step back and watch what is really going on and as a parenting coach I can help you with finding strategies that work for you and that empower your child to be at their best.

Want to talk more?  Send me an email and lets set up a free 30 minute call to explore what is happening for you.  Click here to contact me.

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