Love language, trust and respect are key tools for effective communication with children, say experts at SCRF 2023

Love language, trust and respect are key tools for effective communication with children, say experts at SCRF 2023

A panel of mothers, writers and children’s experts at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival discuss the do’s and don’ts of communicating with little ones, based on their unique needs and personalities

Sharjah, May 5, 2023

A festival for and about children and their development cannot be complete without an examination of the best and most effective ways of communicating with them, and this is what a panel discussion by experts sought to do at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2023).

Dr Fadia Daas, a UAE-based early years teacher and children’s book author, Emirati writer Amira Bin Kadra, and American children and young adult author Lily LaMotte got together at the festival’s Discussion Forum on how to get the message effectively to children as adults and parents, without resorting to harsh or strict attitudes or ultimatums. As both writers for children and mothers themselves, the panellists brought observations from their first-hand experience.

“Effective communication with children starts as early as their time in the womb,” said Dr Daas. And from the time they are infants, their primary caregivers must take pains to communicate in the best way possible, using love language as the key.”

Bin Kadra offered that empathy is the key to communicating with children, and that parents must devise their communication strategies based on each child’s individual needs. “Children look around and absorb everything they see; they learn from us. So we are modelling and mentoring our kids when it comes to communication,” said LaMotte.

Of the many tools and ways that can be employed in effective parent-children communication, Dr Daas says that love language is key. “Some children like to be hugged, some like to be listened to, or to be encouraged, and yet others may want their caregiver to spend time with them and just want their presence around. Identify and nurture the right way to communicate with them,” said Dr Daas. “At the same time, one should strike a balance, and refrain from rewarding them every time they behave or do something good. But communicate that you love them unconditionally, as that is the fundamental core of a child’s wellbeing and sense of self. But communication itself boils down to each child’s personality.”

“In the early years, children are observers who take and absorb every form of communication you provide  them,” Bin Kadra further opined. “This is something that really impacts children and can take deep root in their subconscious minds”.

LaMotte said that stories can offer a great form and tool of communication. “Stories are very important and have been part of civilisation for thousands of years. They are a fundamental part of how adults and children communicate. Just as friends can model behaviour for them, so do books. They can learn from the way characters in their favourite stories tackle and navigate problems and communicate.”

Finally, there are the do’s and don’ts of communication with young ones. “Don’t be confrontational and create a safe space for kids to communicate with you,” notes LaMotte. “Otherwise, it can result in cognitive dissonance in children where they believe in one thing but are told to handle it in another way, and this can lead to lying or making up tales.”

Reinforcing positive behaviour repeatedly, over time, is what brings out the best in children, the panellists concluded, saying that it’s not a one-time exercise but a work in progress throughout their young lives.

The 14th annual Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2023) is the region’s largest festival of its kind, dedicated to stimulate creativity in young minds and bring them closer to books. The event is running until May 14 in Expo Centre Sharjah and carries the theme ‘Train your Brain’.


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