Hey there, fellow child sleep consultants! If you’ve been in this field for a while, you already know how much our work depends on effective communication, especially in the digital space.
However, when you’re new to the field, this virtual communication aspect can feel like uncharted territory. Trust me, we’ve all been there. However, with the right approach, it can be a rewarding and efficient way to provide guidance.
In this article, I will share 8 proven communication habits that can improve our interactions with parents when we are new to the field of child sleep consulting. Incorporating these strategies will not only help you communicate your insights and recommendations more clearly online but also foster a stronger rapport with parents, making the journey to improved sleep habits a smoother ride for everyone involved.
1. Use Visuals for Complex Ideas
One of the key strategies I’ve discovered over the years is the power of visuals when explaining complex ideas. This is particularly useful in child sleep consultation, where practical changes need to be made in real-life scenarios. Let’s explore this with a few examples…
Think about the times when you’re explaining how to interpret different cries or sounds the baby makes. Audio recordings accompanied by visual aids that detail the nuances can be a game-changer. You could use a graph that correlates different types of cries with their likely meanings. This visual-audio approach can aid parents in understanding their baby’s needs more accurately.
Consider when you’re discussing the importance of a consistent bedtime routine. Rather than just providing a written list, why not send a colorful chart or infographic? Visuals can make the routine more engaging and easier for parents to follow.
Another example… When discussing a topic like swaddling, a series of images or a short video can be more illustrative than a lengthy paragraph. A step-by-step pictorial guide or a video demonstration can provide parents with a handy reference they can return to when they’re trying out the process themselves.
By incorporating visuals, you’re not just telling parents what to do, you’re showing them. This approach can enhance understanding and make the implementation of your advice more achievable.
2. Track Changes and Comments in Documents
When you’re sharing an updated document, such as a revised sleep plan, it’s crucial to make changes and additions clear. Instead of sending a large document with subtle revisions, use features like ‘Track Changes’ and ‘Comments’ to highlight these edits. This makes the process of reviewing changes less daunting and more efficient for parents.
3. Ensure Accessibility Across Devices
People use a variety of devices to access documents and emails. To ensure your materials are consistently presented, consider sending them in universally readable formats like PDF. This ensures that parents can review your documents accurately, regardless of the device they are using.
4. Document Important Decisions
The nature of our job as child sleep consultants often involves making critical decisions that can significantly impact a child’s sleep routine. Documenting these decisions is not only professional, but it also ensures that both you and the parents are aligned in your understanding and expectations.
To avoid misunderstandings or miscommunications, it’s essential to send recap emails after decision-making conversations. Let’s illustrate this with a few examples:
Suppose you and the parents have decided to move towards sleep training, and have chosen a specific method, like the Fading method. After the call, you can send an email like, “As per our discussion, we have decided to proceed with the Fading method for sleep training. Here’s a quick recap of what that involves…”
Similarly, if you’ve agreed on changes to the child’s bedtime routine, a follow-up email could look something like this: “To recap our conversation, we agreed to modify the bedtime routine. The new steps, in order, will be dinner, bath, and so on. Please let me know if there’s anything you’d like to discuss further.”
These written recaps serve as a clear reference point and prevent miscommunication. They help parents feel more confident about implementing the agreed-upon changes and provide a valuable record for you to refer back to in future sessions.
5. Schedule Calls or Meetings for Complex Topics
Not all issues can be effectively addressed via email, especially when the topic is complex or requires in-depth discussion. For complicated or sensitive topics, a direct conversation can often be more effective than an email. Scheduling a call or a video meeting can help clear up misunderstandings or answer intricate questions in a more personal and immediate manner.
6. Send Detailed Meeting Invites
When scheduling a meeting, always send a detailed calendar invite, specifying the date, time, and medium (Zoom, Skype, etc.). This clarity prevents last-minute confusion and ensures a focused, productive meeting.
7. Personalize Your Messages
In my years as a child sleep consultant, I’ve found that personalizing my communications with families is not just polite; it’s pivotal to building trust and understanding. Each family has its unique dynamics, parenting style, and child behavior. Using the names of the parents and the child demonstrates that you’re tuned into their specific situation, and aren’t merely offering cookie-cutter advice. Let’s delve deeper into this with a few examples and explore why this is so important:
Consider when you’re providing advice on sleep training methods. Instead of saying, “Your baby should be put down drowsy but awake”, personalize it: “When you put Lily down for the night, remember she should be drowsy but awake.”
Or when you’re suggesting changes to the bedtime routine, instead of saying, “The storytime should be calming and should not excite you child”, say: “When Tom and Laura are reading a bedtime story to Sam, make sure it’s a calming one, so Sam doesn’t get excited before bed.”
Now, let’s look at why this is so effective. The science behind personalized messages comes from psychology. When we hear our own name or specific personal details, it signals that the information is relevant to us, leading to increased engagement and better retention of that information. This phenomenon is known as the “cocktail party effect” in cognitive psychology.
Furthermore, personalization shows empathy and genuine care, building a deeper connection with the family. Parents feel that they are more than just clients and that their unique situation matters. This leads to better communication, more trust, and ultimately, more effective child sleep consulting. So, always aim to tailor your messages to the specific family you’re working with, and you’ll likely see a more positive response.
8. Share Relevant Resources
Equip parents with the tools to explore further by sharing relevant resources. For example, If you’re discussing the importance of maintaining a consistent bedtime routine. Along with your advice, you could share a link to a reputable child health website that outlines the scientific reasons behind a steady routine and its positive effects on a child’s sleep.
If you’ve advised on the significance of reducing screen time before bed, supplement your advice with articles or studies that highlight the effects of electronic devices on melatonin production and sleep. This will help parents understand why this advice is so crucial.
Maybe you’ve suggested incorporating certain foods into the child’s diet, like foods rich in tryptophan, to promote better sleep. In such cases, sharing a list of such foods from a trusted nutrition website can be useful.
By sharing such resources, you’re not just telling parents what to do; you’re showing them why it’s necessary and how it works, giving them a stronger foundation upon which to build better sleep habits for their children. Remember, though, to only share information from credible sources to maintain the trust parents have placed in you.
As child sleep consultants, our goal is to help families make positive changes in their child’s sleep habits. Effective, empathetic, and efficient online communication is an essential tool in achieving this goal. By incorporating these communication habits, we can build stronger relationships with parents and provide the help they need in a more personalized, accessible, and understanding manner.
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