20 Ways to Communicate with Your Child

How many times have you actually talked to your child besides giving him instructions? If you can’t answer that question or the number is low, you may need help when it comes to communicating with your child. 

I know I can find it difficult to talk with my kids, especially my oldest. He tends to shut down and, when he does, I get frustrated.  In those times, I need to stop myself and ride the process out. I need to let him know how I feel and encourage him to do the same.

It’s all about communication.

The Importance of Communicating with Kids

In order for children to be productive in society, it is our job as parents to teach them how to live well. That can be accomplished through communication. Often as parents we talk to our kids in a one-sided conversation. But it is better if there is two-way communication. Here’s why:

  • Less chance of risky behavior
  • You know what your child is thinking
  • You know what your child is doing
  • You can influence your child
  • You teach them healthy emotional behavior

Kids are people, too, and when we treat them as such, they gain a positive sense of who they are and also respect for what we have to teach them.

Communication Tips

1. Listen to them when they talk. Actively hear what they have to say when they are talking. How many times do we ask our kids something, anticipate the answer and then brush over what they say. I know I am guilty of this one.

2. Ask about their day at school. When they get in the car, ask what they did, how they felt and what is going on in their life. If you get  “I don’t know” or “Fine”, give them a chance to decompress from the school day and revisit the question later.

3. Share a family meal. Many families eat dinner together as a way of catching up on each other’s lives. We try to make it a point that we have dinner together as a family every night. Sometimes work schedules get in the way, but 99% of the time we are together as a family for dinner.

4. Make time for family time. Have a family game night, movie night, or just a set aside time when you discuss current events and what is happening in the family.

5. Maintain eye contact when you are talking to your child. This lets her know that nothing else is holding your attention but what she has to say.

6. Ask follow-up questions. If your child gives you a one-word answer to your first question, ask another. If you are still not getting an answer, find another time. He may have something on his mind or be tired or upset. Poking him with questions may irritate him and inflame the situation. Give him space, and he will eventually open up.

7. Show respect. Speak to your child with respect no matter what her age. Knock before entering her room, even if the rule is no locked doors.

8. Read body language. Your child may say he is fine, but his mannerisms may suggest otherwise.

9. Tell them you love them. You can never say it enough to your children when you mean it.

10. Encourage them to talk. Children have opinions, too. Listen to them.

11. Be honest with them. Kids can catch you in a lie. Avoid hypocrisy.

12. Talk about when you were a kid. Kids want to know they are not alone.

13. Accept their right to their emotions. Let them express their emotions in a healthy way. Even if you think their emotions are a bit irrational, it’s how they feel. Acknowledge it, instead of brushing it off.

14. Encourage their interests.

15. Act like a kid. Live a day in their shoes. We can easily forget how hard it is to be a kid. We think they have thing so easy, but kids get stressed out just like adults do. And that can be a hard thing for a 7- or 8-year-old to process.

16. Support them.

17. Share their interests.

18. Let them help cook dinner. My youngest just get interested in helping with dinner. And you should hear the conversations that go on in the kitchen. This is valuable time to not only talk with your child but to have one-on-one time with him.

19. Avoid saying hurtful things to them. Even when they may be hurting you.

20. Touch them. Give hugs, kisses and pats on the back.

Stephanie Glover is a Collegeville, PA mom of two. This post was adopted from her blog, A Grande Life.

Categories: MomSpeak