Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Face to Face Challenge

The past several years I have been fortunate to be able to teach Hanen parent education courses to families as part of my job.  One of those programs focuses on increasing communication and interaction with children with special communication challenges.  A key strategy of that program that I share with parents is to encourage them to get "on their child's level" ... literally!  The idea is to get face to face with your child in order to meet several goals.  One is that by getting on your child's level, you are automatically demonstrating that their communication attempts are important to you.  Also, by being eye to eye, you are able to read and to demonstrate for your child facial expressions and other body language that are so key in understanding communication between two people.  Great strategy right?  Here's the kicker!  As I was thinking about getting ready to teach this session the next night, the realization hit me that I was currently loading the dishwasher while talking to my teenager about his day.  I immediately stopped and turned around to be face to face with him and guess what?  Our conversation lasted longer and had more meaning that the quick exchange it would normally have been there in the kitchen!  To continue to test my hypothesis that young children were not the only ones to benefit from this strategy, I tried it out in several more interactions throughout the week.  Interactions with my husband, my colleagues at work, my friends, and definitely my children were all improved when I stopped to get "on their level".  So here's the challenge.  For the next week, make a conscious effort to get face to face with those around you.  I'll bet that you see improved interactions and conversations as a result.  Good luck and let me know what you find.  I'd love to hear!

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