Good communication with children: The basics

Good communication with children is about:

encouraging them to talk to you so they can tell you how they’re feeling and thinking being able to really listen and respond in a sensitive way to all kinds of things – not just nice things or good news, but also anger, embarrassment, sadness and fear focusing on body language and tone as well as words so you can really understand what children are saying taking into account what children of different ages can understand and how long they can pay attention in a conversation.

Communicating well with children improves your bond with them, and encourages them to listen to you.

Top tips to improve communication with your child

You can improve your communication with your child by showing you value their thoughts and feelings, and helping them to express them. For example:

Set aside time for talking and listening to each other. Family meals can be a great time to do this.Talk about everyday things as you go through your day. If you and your child are used to having lots of communication, it can make it easier to talk when big or tricky issues come up. Be open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. It does take practice because sometimes as parents we let our emotions get the best of us. If we start show by example our children will be better with communication that in the long run also helps with emotional development.

This helps your child develop a ‘feelings vocabulary’. Talking about feeling angry is different from getting angry, though. Learning the difference is an important step for a child learning to communicate.Tune in to what your child’s body language is telling you, and try to respond to non-verbal messages too – for example, ‘You’re very quiet this afternoon. Did something happen at school?’.Work together to solve problems. For example, if your child likes to change his clothes several times a day, you could agree that he puts away the clothes he’s no longer wearing. And remember that you might not always be able to resolve an issue straight away, but you can come back to it later. Emphasis the importance of honesty by encouraging and supporting your child to tell the truth – and praising her when she does. And by being honest yourself!

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