Whether you are parenting a toddler or a teenager, communication is the key to building self-esteem as well as mutual respect. Good communication skills with your children can help solve problems successfully and also illustrates how to maintain good interpersonal relationships. This is as true for young children as it is for adults.
Children learn interpersonal and social skills based on their experiences – and parents play a key role in a child’s development of healthy communication. It is important for parents to be able to communicate openly and effectively with their children on a daily basis. Tips to positively communicate with your child include:
Be available – Initiate conversations to show that you are interested in your child. Make time to spend together and keep up with their interests. Ask open ended questions as a way to encourage a child to continue the conversation, ie: “It sounds like school was really hard today, how did that make you feel?”
Communicate on the child’s level – Stooping or sitting down next to your child’s is less intimidating and lets them know you have their attention.
Be an active listener – Actively listening to your children lets them know they’re important. Make eye contact, eliminate distractions and do not interrupt. Help them feel heard by repeating what they say, i.e.: “It seems like you are anxious about team tryouts, tell me more about it.”
Avoid negative communication – Eliminate negative forms of communication such as lecturing, criticizing and/or yelling. Negative forms of communication is a common cause of conflict and can often undermine the parent-child relationship. (Instead of using the words “no” or “don’t” rephrase your answer, ie: instead of “No we can’t go to the zoo today,” try saying “The zoo sounds fun. Let’s plan to go another day since we are busy today”)
Respond positively to your child – Using communication that respects and affirms your child can effectively help you in your goal of teaching your child appropriate behavior.
Note: This information should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a mental health condition. Call 612-871-1454 to learn more about Washburn Center’s mental health services for children.