Can you ever remember a time when you had done something wrong as a child and an adult went on and on in their lecture to you even though you got the “message” after the first two minutes? I think everyone has a story like that. There are three key points to be made about being brief in our communication with children today, as follows:
- Once children “get” what we are trying to say, if we continue to talk we are actually impeding or interrupting them from assimilating the insight or line if reasoning we have just shared with them. The human brain cannot consciously attend to more than one thing at a time. By making children listen to us go on and on, we are preventing them from mulling over or internalizing what we have just said. It’s one or the other—they can’t do both at the same time!
- Once we have made our point plain, belaboring our message may make us feel better, but it then becomes a way of humiliating and belittling the child. Creating such feelings in a child may do a great job of making them feel resentful (and in turn, less compliant) but it probably actually works against any hope of them actually taking in what we are saying. We have to make a decision: Is our intention to make a child feel bad or change their behavior?
- Because of the popularity of texting, instant messaging, Twitter®, e-mail and other virtual and electronic forms of communication, children are used to picking up critical bits of information in very short bits. They may actually be better at teasing out the essential part of what we are saying than we are in saying it! “Brief” is the hallmark of modern communication!
Being brief does not mean we can’t be thorough. It simply means getting to the point quickly and then ending for maximum impact.