14.1.1  Teaching the mother how to treat a child

Think about how you learned to write, cook or do any other task that involved special skills. You were probably first given instructions. Then you may have watched someone else to do the task. Finally you tried doing it yourself.

When you teach a mother how to treat a child, use three basic teaching steps:

  1. Give information. Explain to the mother how to do the task.

    Example:  explain to the mother how to prepare oral rehydration solution (ORS)

  2. Show an example. Show the mother how to do the task.

    Example:  show the mother how to use a packet of ORS and to mix the right amount of water with ORS

  3. Let her practise. Ask the mother to do the task while you watch her.

    Example:  Observe the mother while she mixes the ORS solution

Letting a mother practise is the most important part of teaching her a task. If a mother does a task while you observe, you will know what she understands and what is difficult for her. You can then help her do it better. The mother is more likely to remember something that she has practised than something that she has heard. Box 14.1 summarises the main points you need to remember when teaching mothers new skills.

Box 14.1  Important points in advising/teaching mothers

When advising or teaching a mother about new skills you should:

  • Use words that she understands
  • Use teaching aids that are familiar to her, such as common containers for mixing ORS solution
  • Give feedback when she practises. Praise what was done well and make corrections if necessary
  • Allow more practice, if needed
  • Encourage the mother to ask questions and answer all her questions.
  • Why is it important to communicate effectively with mothers?

  • Good communication will help to reassure the mother, and will also help you know that she understands the importance of any home treatment she needs to provide for the child and how to give it.

  • Can you think of examples of good communication skills?

  • You may have thought of several examples, such as being able to ask clear and relevant questions. Other examples would be listening actively to the mother, being able to make points using terms that she understands, praising the mother when she has done something well and encouraging her to ask questions.

14.1  Using good communication skills

14.2  Checking the mother’s understanding