You are one of the first people who will talk and communicate with your child. Your relationship and the way you communicate with your child can set the tone for how your child behaves and communicates with you in the future as well as with others.

Your children start to hear your voice right when they in the womb; they will start responding to your tones at the age of 2 to 4 months. It is never too early to start communicating with your children. Think of your relationship as a tower made of blocks. If you have a good and strong foundation, you can keep building it up with consistency and effort. If your foundation is not strong, you would have to keep trying again and again.

Here are some ways you can build a strong relationship with your child:

  • Start early – Developing open communication is something that should start from an early age. Right from when they are just a couple of months old, describe what you are doing with them, like “I am changing your diaper”. This can be a way to start a channel of communication. 
  • Take small steps – The best way is to model what you want them to learn. Trust your toddler to take a glass from the kitchen to the dining table without spilling. Do this without hovering over them. Vocalize that you trust them and even if they spill, identify and encourage the effort.
  • Be wary of your tone – With toddlers, have a neutral tone as much as possible. Do not let your child’s behaviour be dependent on your praises or criticism. At the same time, be careful about how you talk to the other caregivers of the child. It is important that they feel secure with all of their caregivers.
  • Do not break your own rules – Even with young children, it is important to have rules. However, you must also follow these rules if you expect them to. Be firm and do not give in if they throw tantrums. If you give in during tantrums, it teaches them that they can get what they want by throwing tantrums.
  • Be consistent – Be consistent and available. Being consistent 100% of the time may not be realistic but we must try to do what we can. Set aside time each day to spend with them, preferably at the same time every day, so that they know what to expect. Routines are important for young children, especially toddlers. 
  • Be assertive – Be firm and assertive from the very beginning. Being a gentle and calm parent does not have to mean that you give into their every demand. Try to be authoritative and not authoritarian. For example, when you do not accept any of their demands, make sure that you give a reason and not just say something like “because I said so”. 
  • Play with them – Actions speak louder than words. Playing with your young children is a great way to bond and show that you are there for them. You will also get to know their likes, fears and dislikes.
  • Read to them/Tell them stories – Read to your child and tell them stories, real or made-up ones. It is one of the best ways to teach them to communicate well. It increases bonding as well as your child’s vocabulary. For toddlers, you can try buying board books with lots of pictures, which you can read together.
  • Do not put them down – Never blame or put your children down in front of others. Instead, pull them aside and try to find out the reason for their behaviour. In the case of toddlers, when they make a mess or throw their toys around, avoid saying “You have made a huge mess”. Instead, say something like, “We won’t be able to run around when there are toys on the floor. So, let’s clean it up together.”
  • Treat them with respect – With young children, do not override or disregard their opinion. Give them choices whenever you can. For example, lay out two or three outfits that they can chose to wear for the day. This way, you get to provide the options while they get the chance to choose out of these options. It is important that they feel empowered and respected. 

Wishing you a happy parenting experience.

Article by: Mary George, Parvati Raveendran, Salma Jennath, Deepthi Jayakumar. With inputs from Retish Ambat, Waheeda Mohamed, Annie Thomas, Deepthi Suresh.