Expert Parenting Advice
Practical parenting tips and advice from experts around the world

Why you need to understand how your child views the world

"If you want your kids to listen to you, you start by understanding how they process information and what they prioritise."

Earlier today, I started reading an interview with Ed Yong, the author of An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal The Hidden Realms Around Us.

In the interview, Ed talks about the idea of "umwelt". "Umwelt" is a German word that describes the idea that every animal, and every person, lives in their own unique sensory environment, and experiences the world in a unique way through their own unique set of senses.

Like, humans can see colors ranging from red to violet, but we don't - we aren't able to see the ultraviolet colors that actually most sighted animals can perceive. We can't detect the magnetic field of the earth that songbirds and sea turtles can. We can't detect the ultrasonic frequencies that bats use to navigate around them or that rats and mice use to send messages to each other that we can't hear. So every creature has these sensory limitations and is enclosed in its own particular sensory bubble. And that's what the umwelt is.

Ed Yong

I found this interview with Ed Yong fascinating, because I often think about the idea that we can never know how other people experience the world.

For example, I know what the color red looks like to me, but I cannot know what red looks like to anyone else.

This also reminded me about something that Heather Lindsay, a parenting coach and the author of My Big Emotions, told me when I asked her how I can get my kids to cooperate:

My real big top tip is to make sure that we as parents are working with their children's individual communication style.

But what does that really mean?

Well, we all process information differently. At any one point in time, millions of bits of information are bombarding our brain. And if we just think about the room that we're in now, you or me, there are things that we can hear, we can smell, touch, taste, all around us.

Heather Lindsay

The fact is, our kids experience the world differently than we do. They focus on different things, and they see different things as important.

That is why Heather recommends that, if you want your kids to listen to you, you start by understanding how they process information and what they prioritise.

Because once you understand this, it becomes much easier to "talk in their language". To tailor how you communicate to their preferences.

In the interview, Heather shares how you can talk to your child using their preferred communication style, and how this helps them listen to you the first time.