Communication is one of the most critical skills that every child needs to develop. Building on your children’s communication skills prepares them for the future and fosters deeper connections between parents and kids.
Not all kids learn how to communicate quickly. Some need a simple nudge towards the right direction, while others need your help from start to finish. Here’s how you can raise your kids to become great at communication, both with you and the people around them.
1. Talk To Your Kids Regularly
Children start their lives with mostly their parents as their only conversation partners. While their pool of conversation partners grows over time, your words as their parents are the most formative for them.
Talk to your kids regularly, regardless of how busy your day is. The more active you are as a parent, the more your child will want to communicate with you. Encourage them to express themselves by asking questions.
Turn the conversations into a regular habit. Connecting with your kids regularly helps build strong emotional ties. It’s also an opportunity to teach them about the world around them.
2. Help Your Child Express Themselves
Some children have a hard time expressing themselves. They might be shy or held back because they feel “big” for their age and don’t want to appear inferior. This is common among toddlers and preschoolers.
When children are young, they need help in identifying their feelings. You can help them understand their own emotions by showing them a visual representation. For example, if you feel like crying, show them a cartoon character who is sad. Make them understand the feelings behind the picture and why it happens.
When they’re older, you can encourage them by asking open-ended questions. Ask them how they feel, what made them feel that way, and what you can do to make them feel better. You can help them by showing the kids how to express their feelings.
3. Acknowledge Your Kid’s Feelings
Overcoming communication problems is a matter of acknowledging what your child feels. Children don’t always know how to put their feelings into words. They might say or do something, but it won’t mean what parent thinks it does.
You can avoid a misunderstanding by acknowledging your kid’s actions. When a child says, “I hate you,” you can respond by acknowledging the feeling. You can say, “I can see you feel outraged right now,” or “I can tell you are annoyed with me.” It might not solve the problem right away, but it will reassure the child that you understood how they felt.
After acknowledging their feelings, reason with them. Kids are more intelligent than many people think they are. They will understand the reasoning as long as you’re logical with them.
4. Teach Them Manners Early
Children love to talk. They begin chattering away from their early days, even when their parents don’t understand what they’re talking about. As they grow, their vocabulary expands, and they become more capable of speaking in more complex ways. However, this doesn’t mean that you should let them talk about whatever they want.
You need to teach your child how to control their speech, especially when talking to other people. Teach them how to express themselves without being rude or hurtful.
Remember that kids have a lot to say, and they don’t understand the concept of interrupting. If you don’t teach them how to speak correctly, they might say or do something inappropriate, embarrassing themselves and those around them.
5. Show Them How To Listen
Most professionals agree that listening is more important than any other ability. Good listeners can absorb and retain information.
They hear everything, from the tone to the words to the length of the sentences. They pay attention to details and know-how to respond appropriately.
As parents, your job is to teach your kid how to listen. Encourage them to ask questions about things that interest them. Ask them what they think about a particular topic. Even if they can’t give you an answer, they at least consider it.
Most importantly, encourage them to listen to you and listen carefully. Give them your full attention when they talk to you.
6. Help Them With Body Language
Effective body language is imperative in communicating. When you’re not confident or unsure about what to say, your body language will give people a negative impression of you.
When kids are younger, they typically imitate what adults do. They might take cues from their actions, including how they stand, walk, and hold themselves.
As they get bigger, you can work on teaching them how to present themselves. Let them know that it’s important to be confident and that they need to project the right image.
You can enhance their communication skills by teaching them how to gesture. You can explain to them that gestures are another way of expression. You can give them specific examples of cheerful and polite expressions.
You can expect them to copy your facial expressions when they are younger. As they get older, you can show examples of different hand movements.
When they are around other kids, you can also introduce them to non-verbal cues. Let their classmates know that they like to play with toys or are hungry.
7. Encourage Them To Participate
Many young children are scared to speak up. They might feel embarrassed or afraid of getting in trouble.
As a parent, you can ease this fear by encouraging them to participate. You can involve them when you’re doing household chores or going to the mall. Let them help you by assembling the shopping list or helping with dishes.
You can also ask them to express their opinions. Everyone has their own ideas, and they must get the chance to share them.
8. Get Them Professional Help
It’s natural for parents to be concerned when their child has trouble communicating with others. However, it can sometimes be challenging to know where to turn. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things won’t improve. This is when you should consider getting professional help.
Consider hiring a professional to help teach the concepts to your little one. You can ask your pediatrician or therapist to help you. And you can look into classes or workshops that specialize in this discipline. You can even get online communication courses to give them a chance.
Getting professional support is also vital if your child has a specific learning disability. Learning disabilities make it difficult for children to learn. The disorder might affect how they learn, process information, or speak. Professionals can give you a good idea of where to start.
The Bottom Line
Raising a child is no easy task. It requires constant attention, patience, and practice. By teaching your kids how to communicate, you can help them succeed in life.
Developing good communication channels is important as they grow up. It helps them express themselves and helps them connect with their peers. As you guide them, remember to be patient. Don’t force the process. Instead, get them comfortable enough to do so. Follow these tips and you should get the results you need.
About the Author: Chatty Garrate is a freelance writer from Manila. She finds joy in inspiring and educating others through writing. That’s why aside from her job as a language evaluator for local and international students, she spends her leisure time writing about various topics such as lifestyle, technology, HR, and business.