How many times have you actually talked to your child besides giving them 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 them 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 but it is frequently 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.
20 Ways to Communicate with Your Child
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 a “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 and 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.
5. Maintain eye contact when you are talking to them. This lets them know that nothing else is holding your attention but what they have to say.
6. Ask follow-up questions. If they give you a one-word answer to your first question, ask another. If you are still not getting an answer, find another time. They may have something on their mind, are tired, or upset. Poking them with questions may irritate them and inflame the situation. Give them space and they will eventually open up.
7. Show respect. Speak to them with respect no matter what their age. Knock before entering their room even if the rule is no locked doors.
8. Read body language. Your child may say they are fine but their mannerisms may suggest otherwise.
9. Tell them you love them. You can never say it enough 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 them but to have one-on-one time with your children.
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.