Ways of adapting communication with children and young people
Communication with children and adults requires the individuals to demonstrate abilities, which will make the children, and young adults feel comfortable and help them to communicate in a positive manner (Arnold and Boggs, 2007).
The age of the child or young person
Different levels of communication strategies need to be adopted to gain the attention of the varying age groups of children.
Children below 2 years
High usage of non-verbal communication like body language, hand gestures and understanding facial expressions
Aged between 2 to 5years
Use of picture graphics, word building games and verbal communication techniques
Aged between 5 to 9 years
In this stage children tries to communicate by copying the adults hence adult child interaction is necessary.
Other techniques involve one to one interaction, small group discussion, modeling and developing of vocabulary, sentence structuring etc.
Aged between 9 to 16 years
In this stage the discussion and negotiation skills of the children should be developed. For dealing with children of this age, the individuals should converse about issues and reflect on the thoughts of the children (Savundranayagam and Orange, 2011).
Adults are adapted to communicate in both verbal and non-verbal communication using complex thoughts and skills. Basic communication styles in this stage are namely observation, verbal discussion and kinesthetic style.
While communicating with children an individual will be facing a variety of different situations. Ruben (2011) commented that to make the communication effective the individual will have to always focused on the adaption of the right communication strategy in the right situation. In case of interacting with younger children, the individual needs to adopt reassuring strategies. Tilmouth (2012) opined in case an individual is dealing with learning activities the individual needs to be focused in order to avoid any distraction on the part of the children. Further, in a classroom communication context the professionals should maintain a process of self-monitoring, turn talking and determine the language productivity of the children. In case of informal situations like communication with the children in a playground, the individual should adopt positive informal approach in order to develop trust.
Bayat (2012) suggested that communication requirements might not be same for all type of children. Communication differences can be in form of accents, dialects or languages, technical terms or cultural and physical differences. Children with physical impairments like hearing loss, visual disability and in sufficient mental growth will require more time and effective communication means like use of Braille, body language communication and counseling techniques to be able to express their thoughts effectively. In case of children, suffering from speech disorders the professionals need to patience and give them opportunity to complete their thoughts. In case of children, suffering from hearing disability the professionals must use effective sign language strategies while communicating with them.
For instance in communicating with a visually impaired child the professional needs to use non-verbal and touch sensations in order to make the child feel the presence of the individual. Moreover, it is necessary that the professional should always use the first name of the child while addressing any issues to the child and the verbal communication should be slow and clear. Further to make the child aware of the surrounding atmosphere the professional may give descriptions of the surroundings and make the child visualize the things.
Although there are various similarities between communicating with adults and children like maintainance of eye contact and showing mutul respect and courtsey, however there are some basic differences in communicating with children and adults.
In communicating with children it is necessary for the profesional to maintain a relationship of trust and care. However in case of adult communication the professionals need to adopt a friendly attidtude rather than a caring attitude. The adults need to be able to share their thoughts, arguments and problems with the professionals (Dunhill, Elliott and Shaw, 2010).
The professionals while communicating with children are advised not to interrupt the children in the middle of their conversation because in doing so the professional will lower their self esteem and confidence level. For instance in case of children experiencing stammering problems the professional needs to be patient and avoid completing sentences and thoughts for them. On the contrary in case of adults the communicator should be respectful towardsthe wishes of the adults and use the methods which they prefer in order to communicate.
Further while communicating with children it is necessary for the professional to use clear and unambiguous statements because the children do not develop complex vocabulary and hence they have very low registering power (Feeney, 2012). However, in case of adults the use of complex vocabulary is permissible because they are in a learning stage and extensive use of complex words will help them to further develop their vocabulary.
Moreover, to maintain professionalism in the communication process it is advisable to avoid physical gestures while communicating with children. The Children may feel emotionally attached to the communicator and may want to develop physical contacts like shaking of hands however it is necessary on the part of the professional to teach them to restrain from physical contacts in order to help them maintain the courtesy of communication. In case of adults, it is important to be sensitive to the communication needs especially in case of adults with physical and mental disabilities. In some cases and adult may speak a language unknown to the communicator. In such circumstances, the communicator should arrange for translators in order to effectively understand the thoughts of the adults.
Adults similar to children may have different communication needs that should be addressed by the professionals by using different communication tools. In case of adults with communication disorders or with language barriers the professionals should use communication tools like illustrated documents, flash cards, language support from translators, makaton , assistive technology etc.
Hughes and Read (2012) referred that use of flash cards help the professionals to communicate the activities that should be undertaken by the adults. This is a useful communication tool for the adults suffering from hearing disabilities. Further sign language aid of makaton is used for communicating effectively with adults suffering from autism, Down syndrome and other language impairment. Other forms of assistive technologies like occurrence of light flash when doorbell rings, is an effective way to communicate with the adults having hearing impairment.
Hence, the communication should be adopted in a changing manner suiting to the changing needs of the adults.
Pappas and McLeod (2009) opined that disagreements are a result of poor communication process. In case of children the management of disagreements are more important than in case of adults because disagreement between the communicator and the child may result in leaving a long lasting negative impact on the child’s mind. Moreover, as compared to an adult a child is not mature enough to understand the reasons behind the disagreements and would develop lack of confidence and attitude of resentment towards the communicator
Children are in a growing stage and in order to teach them to deal constructively with arguments and conflicts it is necessary on the part of the professional to establish certain behavioral boundaries for the children
The professionals need to acknowledge and praise the good behavior of the children while resolving a situation of disagreement.
The professionals should establish concise, clear and easy rules for controlling the behavior of the children
The registration power of the children is low hence the professionals will need to develop an ongoing and repeated process in order to address the conflicting issues of the children.
Avoid any kind of adult conflicts in front of the children so that they may not adopt the aggressive behavioral techniques of the adults.
In cases of aggressive and dangerous behavior by the children which can cause physical harm to the child’s health the professionals should maintain careful supervision and give stringent orders to resolve the situation rather than engaging in discussions (Edmond and Price, 2012).
To resolve the conflict and to avoid the disagreements effectively the professionals must be aware of the characteristics of the child and make decisions accordingly.
The adults not only include the teenagers within the age group of 13 to 19 years but also includes the parents and care takers of the children. While resolving disagreements with the adults the professionals are required to adopt reasoning and argumentative skills. Following are some of the skills the communicator should adopt while coping with disagreements with adults
Maintain calm and politeness while handling argumentative conversation
Listen carefully and respect the adult’s point of view
In case of personal arguments, select a private place for the discussion process
Avoid making aggressive and personal comments during the disagreement (Scott, 2010)
Take the help of other professionals in case the disagreements are not resolved
Maintenance of eye contact throughout the conversation in order to assure the adult that the professional is interested in resolving the issues
Maintenance of positive body language to create a positive environment
In cases when the adults lack self-confidence, they tend to act in aggressive manner hence these results in generation of arguments. In these cases, the professional needs to be sensitive while dealing with the arguments
The professional should adopt mature, rational and non-abusive techniques in resolving the issues
During the resolve of the argument, the professional should give all the involved parties individual turns to express their views so that the issue can be resolved.
The professionals dealing in communication needs to have full knowledge about the legislations concerning the protection of data, disclosure of information and maintenance of confidentiality. Lee Ashcraft (2000) opined that it is important for the professionals to recognize the unique needs of the child. Confidentiality is an important aspect within the school setting because lack of confidentiality can have serious impact on emotions of parents and children. Confidentiality and non-disclosure of information is also an important issue in case of children suffering from mental diseases like autism, Down syndrome etc. In majority of the cases, the abnormal behavior of these kind o children gives rise to high degree of curiosity on the part of other related external parties of the school however, it is the duty of the school to maintain the confidentiality of the information in order to maintain the dignity of these children and their family.
This act enacted by the UK legislation sets out the rules that gives the public and the institutions the right of access to information held by public authorities. The public authority like the schools under this act has the right to obtain all personal information about the children and their families in order to perform social functions (Webster, 2006). Under this act, the schools are required to keep personal records, maintain separate pupil records, records concerning the transfers and admissions of the pupils. The act also makes the schools responsible for the supply of information to the parents and the child about the school legislations.
The Data Protection Act 1998is the act enacted by the UK law to provide protective guidelines for processing of data of normal living citizens. The major thrust of the act is the protection of the personal data of the individuals (McCluskey, 2005). The personal data includes identities, phone numbers, email ids and also the medical history of the individual as submitted by the individual to different social organizations like schools, job place and medical institutions. The communication professionals can get access to the medial information and personal information in schools in order to monitor and understand the behavior of the children. In cases of making videos to record behaviors of the children, the school professionals should also take permissions from the parents.
For instance in cases where a parent is also a member of the school committee, other parents force them to disclose internal information about other children. In such circumstances, the individuals should abide by the guidelines of Data Protection act and refrain from supplying any internal information (Windell, 2012).
However, they would have to confirm to the standards of the Data Protection Act 1998. The professionals in schools are instructed to use the information about the child only for confidential purpose and are not given any permission to pass on the information to any other party without the consent of the parents of the child. Moreover, the act states that any personal or medical history as recorded with any social institutions needs to be reregistered with the Data Protection Commission to ensure its safety.
Following are the principles of data protection
Individuals are required to process the data fairly and legally
Individuals and professionals should use it exclusively for the purpose it is acquired
The data reports should be maintained in an accurate manner and the concerned authorities should keep and updated record of the necessary data
The data should be deleted with the completion of the necessary tasks
This act enacted by the UK legislation was enacted in order to set directives and boundaries that will help the social committees to regulate the interests and activities of the children (Lindon, 2007). The major idea behind this act is to provide improved situation for the children of all ages. The major principles of this act are follows:
To make the atmosphere healthy in order to ensure health benefits of the children
Creation of safe environments for the children
Creation of joyful environment for the children in schools
Assisting the children in all acts and encouraging them to win all competitions
This act gave rise to the concept of “Every child Matters” in UK in 2005 which states that the social organizations like schools and all social professionals should provide equal care facilities to all children without making any discrimination.
The United States Congress primarily introduced this act in accordance to the cyber laws in order to obstruct the communication of any obscene or indecent material to the children. This act prohibits the professionals in any social settings to use any kind of defensive language in order to resolve conflicts or disagreements with children. This act has helped in prevention of mental deterioration of the child and enhancement of moral values of the children.
Wong, Hockenberry and Wilson (2011) opined that it is important to reassure the parents and the children about the confidentiality issues because of the following reasons
Increase the confidence of the children: If the school authorities are able to assure the child that the conversation and the information of the child will be kept confidential then the confidence level of the child is enhanced and the child readily agrees to co-operate with the professionals by supplying them all required information.
Ability to build trust in the relationship with the parents: The major thrust of the reassurance is to gain trust of the parents and create a situation of open communication for the individual as well as the parents. This helps he school professionals to acquire information on sensitive issues.
Generate a sense of protection among the children: The enactment of different legislations like Data protection act and Children act generates a sense of protection among the child and the parents equally. Hence, the parents agree to admit their child in the educational institutions for their overall growth (Losier, 2009).
Encourage children to converse freely: The assurance of the protection of data makes it easier for the professionals to converse freely with the children about their psychological, physical and behavioral problems. In some cases, an individual child may behave in an aggressive manner due to personal or family problems (Lefevre, 2010). However, it becomes difficult for the professionals to handle such situations and to handle the child without having any knowledge about their personal history. Hence, if a reassuring atmosphere is created then the professional will be able to communicate freely and evaluate the problems.
Getting access to important information: The assurance of the data protection also helps the professionals to get access to important information about the child from the parents. In cases with dealing with child having physical disorders, the professionals may require information on the medical history of the child’s parents. Hence, if the professionals can assure that all personal and medical reports and information can be protected then they will get access to the information.
As per the Data Protection Act 1998, the schools and other authorities have to take parental consent before they can supply any personal information about the child and the family to an external party. However in certain circumstances if the school may feel that there are any issues that indicate that the child is at risk from physical harm or abuse then the school authorities under the Information sharing and confidentiality Protocol can disclose the information to the external party (Wurmser and Bliss-Holtz, 2011). Section 4 of the Information Sharing and Confidentiality Protocol states that the schools can share information with an external party without adopting consent for a child above the age of 16 if the following conditions occur
Failure to share information may result in physical harm of the child or young adult
Failure to share information may result in commitment of crime
When there is a statutory requirement of court order of sharing information
If the young adult is, mature enough to give consent on the sharing of the information without parental consent
Pappas and McLeod (2009) opined that in the matter of sharing of disclosed information the major priority is given on the safety and welfare issue of the child rather than putting emphasis on the legislative norms. When the disclosure is done the professional should record the following
The time of disclosure
The person who made the disclosure
The person to whom the disclosure was made
The procedure of the disclosure
The matter of disclosure
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Bayat, M. (2012). Teaching exceptional children. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Dunhill, A., Elliott, B. and Shaw, A. (2010). Effective Communication and Engagement with Children and Young People, their Families and Carers. Exeter: Learning Matters Ltd.
Edmond, N. and Price, M. (2012). Integrated Working with Children and Young People. London: SAGE Publications.
Feeney, S. (2012). Professionalism in early childhood education. Boston: Pearson.
Hughes, A. and Read, V. (2012). Building Positive Relationships with Parents in the Early Years. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.
lee Ashcraft, K. (2000). Empowering "Professional" Relationships: Organizational Communication Meets Feminist Practice. Management Communication Quarterly, 13(3), pp.347-392.
Lefevre, M. (2010). Communicating with children and young people. Bristol, UK: Policy Press.
Lindon, J. (2007). Understanding older children: communication skills. Practical Professional Child Care, 4(3).
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McCluskey, U. (2005). To be met as a person. London: Karnac Books.
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Portela, I. and Cruz-Cunha, M. (2010). Information communication technology law, protection and access rights. Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference.
Ruben, M. (2011). How to tutor your own child. New York: Ten Speed Press.
Savundranayagam, M. and Orange, J. (2011). Relationships between appraisals of caregiver communication strategies and burden among spouses and adult children. International Psychogeriatrics, 23(09), pp.1470-1478.
Scott, G. (2010). Whistleblower protection. [Washington, D.C.]: U.S. Govt. Accountability Office.
Tilmouth, T. (2012). Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health and Social Care and Children and Young People's Services. London: Hodder Education.
Webster, M. (2006). Data protection in the financial services industry. Aldershot, England: Gower.
Windell, J. (2012). The everything child psychology and development book. Avon, MA: Adams Media.
Wong, D., Hockenberry, M. and Wilson, D. (2011). Wong's nursing care of infants and children. St. Louis, Mo.: Mosby/Elsevier.
Wurmser, T. and Bliss-Holtz, J. (2011). Thinking Strategically: Academic–Practice Relationships: One Health System's Experience. Journal of Professional Nursing, 27(6), pp.e114-e118.
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