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Vandenberg celebrates communicate with your child month

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- How well do you know your children? It's fair enough to say parents have a general knowledge as to what their kids like opposed to what they don't. However, there is more than what meets the eye when it comes to talking to your kids. 

October is recognized as "Communicate with Your Child Month" where parents are encouraged to engage more with their children. Whether it's spending time together at an outing, or just talking one on one with what's going on in each other's lives, parents should be in touch with their children more often. 

Linda Crowder is a community readiness consultant at Vandenberg's Airman and Family Readiness Center. She has a master's degree in marriage, family and child counseling from Chapman University and does marriage education consulting at the 
center. Crowder stresses on the importance of parents communicating with their children at an early age. "Ages 0-3," says Crowder "is when children are at a critical point in their lives. The parent is the primary teacher. How parents treat their children at that age is how they communicate with them." 

Crowder recommends several guidelines for parents to follow to better communicate with their kids. One of them includes making realistic rules and sticking with them. For example, if a parent was angry with their child and said, "You're grounded for a month!" it would be out of line for that parent to say, especially if they weren't planning on grounding their child for that long. Grounding a child for a day or two would be more reasonable. 

Another guideline is using positive reinforcement. Positive reinforcement on a child is important. Reassuring them with positive feedback after children accomplish goals or do good deeds keeps children motivated. Crowder states, "Giving positive reinforcement for even the efforts of a child is just as important as the outcome they give." 

The most important guideline Crowder shares is understanding. When understanding your children, you talk to them as well as listen. You engage by asking questions like: "How did your day go?" "What did you do?" "Was there anything that bothered you?" "Why did it bother you?" 

Being aware that children are innocent about their behaviors helps because most of the things they do, good or bad, they mimic from school, outside of school, and even more-- at home from mom and dad. 

For Vandenberg Staff Sgt. Paul Herrera-Ramirez, a 30th Medical Operations Squadron 
Health Services Administration journeyman, communication is exactly what he believes to be the key to his close relationship with his children. A father to sons Antonio and Benicio, Sergeant Herrera-Ramirez expresses how communication with children begins even before they talk. 

"Even though they can't talk, they can hear mom and dad's voice, and that creates comfort for them," says Sergeant Herrera-Ramirez. "If Antonio and Benicio have privileges taken away, they know there's a reason why, and it's because their father (I) always gives one to them." 

Crowder says, "Make sure you to talk to you children. Talk to them, not down to them. You need to get down to their level and give respect." 

Speaking of respect, Sergeant Herrera-Ramirez is a firm believer in talking to his kids as equals. "You get to their level," he says. "Don't talk down to them and don't baby talk. Look them in their eyes and give them respect." 

Working full-time as an aerospace medical technician, father, and airman can be quite the challenge for Sergeant Herrera- Ramirez. Yet he still makes any chance of seeing and spending time with his sons possible. "When dad's not around, he's at work. They know that. And they know that if they don't see me today, they'll atleast get a phone call no matter what." 

Sergeant Herrera-Ramirez is his sons' biggest fan. He knows that from the strong bond and communication he has with them now, he can only look forward to see how his boys mold into good and respectful men in the future. 

There are many ways parents can better communicate with their children. The Airman and Family Readiness Center has military and family life consultants for parents who are stressed out and need someone to talk to. Allan Hancock offers free classes for parents at both Lompoc and Santa Maria campuses. And Military OneSource offers both phone and e-mail consultation as well. 

Make sure you take the time to communicate with your child. The better you communicate with them, the better you prepare them for both the real world and life.