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Preschool children from three to five years of age develop further. They expand their word combinations and are able to speak in sentences, use correct grammatical patterns, use pronouns, articulate sounds clearly, and rapidly increase their working vocabulary. Preschool children may also understand words they do not use themselves.
School-age children and adolescents appreciate giving and receiving hugs as well as getting a reassuring pat on the back or a gentle hand resting on their hand. Asking permission from a child is recommended for any contact beyond a casual touch.
School-age children six to 11 years of age learn to communicate their own thoughts, as well as understand viewpoints of others. They can understand words with multiple meanings, however, words describing what they have not experienced are not thoroughly understood. School-age children have expanding vocabularies, enabling them to describe ideas, thoughts, and feelings. Their conversational skills refine.
Adolescents 12 years of age and older are able to communicate theories and explain them like adults would. Adolescents are able to talk about and understand most adult ideas.
Privacy is sometimes necessary for good communication. Space should be available for private conversations away from roommates, friends, certain family members, and visitors. This is especially important when communicating with adolescents. There may be sensitive topics adolescents will not want to discuss with parents present, or will only want to discuss with one parent.
Messages must be received for communication to be complete. Listening is an essential part of communication. Children and parents need to develop active listening skills to be effective listeners. As children enter the teen years, reflective communication skills are invaluable for them and for their parents. Active listening skills involve the following:
Children's receptive communication skills are more advanced than their verbal communication skills. They understand more than people often expect, based on their verbal skills. Effective parents talk with their children, not to them. To engage children in conversation, parents can ask open-ended questions and not judge what their children say.
Author Info: Aliene S. Linwood RN, DPA, FACHE, Thomson Gale, Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Children's Health, 2006This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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