As more people around me are having kids, I find myself increasingly in the company of their young. They express surprise that their kids seem to take to me easily and say so.
These are 15 of my tips in relating to any young person, not necessarily just a 5-year-old.
- Don't speak louder: Too many people speak louder not softer when trying to communicate with young people. Young people are not hard of hearing — not usually anyway. If anything, they are irritated because you are hurting their ear drums.
- Don't exaggerate your facial gestures: It's scary.
- Don't put your face up to theirs: They can also see fine too.
- Don't try to be funny: Young people have a strong sense of humour. You don't have to tell them what's funny or try to be funny. They will figure out what's funny all by themselves.
- Don't tell them to smile or laugh: They are not your entertainment.
- Don't have big conversations: Young people tend to have shorter attention spans. If they are bored and turn away, don't take it personally. Keep your conversations short and let them be.
- Don't talk down to them: They are unique individuals with their own thoughts, feelings and desires — just different ones to you. Respect them the way you would an adult.
- Don't keep asking why: Or why, why, why? Because it just is — and it's irritating.
- Don't keep asking the same question in the same way: If they didn't understand you the first time, rephrase. They either didn't understand you or don't want to answer. They heard you fine.
- Don't think it's about you: Not everything is about you or what you said. They are more interested in themselves.
- Don't treat them like a prop: Have you ever seen those people who have no relation whatsoever but just want a picture with so-and-so's kid because it just make them appear cooler than they are? A child is not a fashion accessory.
- Don't pet them on the head: Because you wouldn't like it if others petted you on the head like a pet. You know they are not anybody’s pet right?
- Don't pinch or bite them: Most people wouldn’t pinch or bite kids, but I was the victim of rough handling because apparently I was so cute. I had absolutely no idea why people who thought I was cute thought it necessarily to hurt me.
- Don't reveal their secrets: If they asked you not to tell and you promise not to, don't. Honor your word.
- Don't try too hard: They either like you or they don't. It's not end of the world if they don't. If you try too hard, they can tell right away and dismiss you as a fake.
If you forget all else above when in contact with a young person next time, just remember the most important thing is respect. Good luck out there!
Dr Martha Tara Lee is Founder and Clinical Sexologist of Eros Coaching in Singapore. She is a certified sexuality educator with AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists), as well as certified sexologist with ACS (American College of Sexologists). She holds a Doctorate in Human Sexuality from Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality as well as certificates in practical counseling, life coaching and sex therapy. She is available to provide sexuality and intimacy coaching for individuals and couples, conduct sexual education workshops and speak at public events in Asia and beyond. For more, visit www.ErosCoaching.com.
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