Communication and Professional Relationships with Children, Young People and Adults

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The basic guidelines for effective communication are the same for adults as they are for children although how we approach communication may vary slightly. Communication is the most important component in any relationship. Effective communication creates positive relationships and allows children to participate and benefit. You should always think about how you communicate, demonstrate and respond to others and the messages you are giving.

The principles of relationship building with children and adults are that if everyone is comfortable in our company they are more likely to communicate effectively. You need to develop a positive relationship that shows respect and consideration. You should ensure that you acknowledge and respect the views of others at all times and take time to remember key points or vital personal information (names, personal details). You also need to make sure that you take time to listen and show that you are interested by responding appropriately. If you are giving information you need to be clear and you check that the information has been understood i.e. When talking to children ask them to repeat back to you what they need to do.

When communicating you need to adapt to different situations e.g. you would not talk to a colleague at school in the same way you would talk to a friend in a bar. It is also important to remember that talking is not the only way we communicate, our body language and the way we dress are all forms of communication. The non-spoken forms are as powerful, and can be open to misinterpretation. For example if you are aware that a colleague or child has a hearing impairment you would ensure you face them when talking so that they could lip read, you may also make eye contact so they know you are talking to them and you would slow down your speech. You could also use gestures where appropriate. I am aware that my job and social role may leave me open to parents approaching me to ask questions but more importantly, I am more aware of the confidentiality policy within my school and what I must do in cases like this.

To communicate effectively with children and young people you need a number of skills. Children learn how to communicate through the responses of others if they do not feel they are being listened to they are less likely to communicate. You should therefore ensure that pupils are given sufficient opportunities to talk. You then need to make eye contact and listen give them your attention. Use appropriate body language and facial expressions, consider if you need to move your physical position to get to their level. Try to smile and react in a positive way to what they are saying. You may also need to check your understanding of what has been said. Make sure you remain interested by responding and questioning this will not only raise the child’s self esteem but will also demonstrate to the child how to communicate effectively

Children of all ages, cultures and abilities need to feel secure and valued and by your interactions with them will demonstrate that they are part of the school community. There are factors to bear in mind such as the age of the child or young person, different ages will require varying levels of attention. Young children often need more reassurance both verbal and physical. They will require lots of support and reassurance to enable them to adjust to the school environment and to develop their independence. Older children will need help in talking through their problems and reflecting. Each time you communicate you need to adapt your vocabulary to interact positively as you listen and respond. We can help with this by encouraging them to build up friendships with other children or children they may not usually associate with. When communicating with younger children it is essential that we are at the same eye level as the child and use simple instructions broken down into manageable steps. With some children, alternative forms of...
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