Our Family’s Communication Manifesto

July 7, 2008

As a family we understand the impact and influence words and communication can have on the psychological and social development of our wonderful son, especially in the habits we create for the future.  We try to use the following principles when communicating with Bodhi. ·         Attachment Parenting- the most important task for us as parents to our baby is to create an attachment of trust, love and bonding with Bodhi. This includes practices such as lots and lots of cuddles, time in arms, eye contact and emotional and physical availability, including immediate attention if he cries. ·         There will be times when Bodhi cries due to stress.  If all of his immediate needs are met then he may need to be held in arms and talked to soothingly whilst he cries. (This is entirely different to letting him ‘cry it out’, which we never, ever do!)·         When Bodhi cries like this, we allow him to full express himself. We whisper things like “Mama/Dada is here with you, let me know what’s wrong” Well intentioned sayings such as “It’s alright” and distracting him with toys when he needs to work through stress can lead to difficulties in healthily expressing and working through emotions as he gets older.·         We avoid language that inhibits emotional expression, such as “Stop that horrible crying!” Instead, we use language that connects, such as “You look so upset, can you tell me what’s happened?”·         We do not use language that labels or limits our son. This includes calling him a ‘Little Terror’ or a ‘Naughty Boy’ (there is a world of difference between calling someone naughty, and saying his actions are naughty) as eventually he will come to see himself as these things. ·         We attempt to model good manners.·         We acknowledge that what is happening for Bodhi is incredibly important to him, no matter how insignificant it may be for our adult perspective. ·         When we say no, we mean it, and follow it through. However, at this age, we find connecting with Bodhi and redirecting his actions far more beneficial for inappropriate behaviour. We aim for more yeses than nos in our day!·         We limit the amount of television Bodhi is exposed to as a vast majority of it does not model good communication (or other) practices.·         We use language that instills self esteem in Bodhi and avoid that which will create guilt. ·         We use “I statements” that follow the When you…I feel…(proposal of new action)  For example, “When you grab Sasha’s hair like that, I feel scared she will scratch you. Let’s pat her gently, like this.” This kind of statement is assertive, but non- blaming and takes responsibility for ourselves. ·         We attempt at all times use non violent communication- that which is respectful, peaceful, non aggressive and positive. We ask ourselves “Is this the kind of value I want to help create in Bodhi?”

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