COMMUNICATING WITH OUR CHILDREN
Parent-child communication is at the heart
of teaching future adults effective ways to communicate with others.
Children learn attitudes, values, and behaviors, as well as gain
knowledge, through communicating with others - the most important of whom
are their parents. Communication between parent and child begins the day
the child is born, or earlier, and continues as the child grows, matures
PARENTS AS MODELS
Parents are the models that children
imitate during their childhood years. Parents who pay attention to their
child's concerns and ideas teach their child that they are important in
the family. Parents also teach the child how to listen to someone who is
speaking. When parents talk respectfully to children, they are teaching
children to be respectful when they speak. Shouting teaches children to
shout, just as the words we use teach children that it is all right to use
the words and language spoken in the home with others.
TALKING AND LISTENING
Talking and listening to children are the
ways we most often communicate with our youngsters. Our facial
expressions, gestures, and body language can also send messages. As we
talk and listen with our children, some of the following suggestions could
be useful to reflect upon:
- Do allow children to express themselves
in their own words.
- Do listen carefully to what your child
- Do let your child explain what happened
before making your comments.
- Do repeat what your child has said to
clarify and show your understanding.
- Do wait for your child to finish an idea
before starting your response.
- Do respect your child's ideas and
feelings about situations.
- Do not interrupt children when they are
- Do not change your child's words to fit
- Do not disagree immediately with what
your child begins to say to you.
- Do not finish your child's sentences for
- Do not dismiss as unimportant your
child's feelings (fears, angers, frustrations).
- Do not change the subject of the
- Do not jump to conclusions! Let your
child express his/her thoughts.
WHEN CHILDREN SEEM TO
HEAR ONLY PART OF THE MESSAGE
At times, our children seem to NOT listen
well to parents. It could be that as adults, we are used to talking about
several things at once, or giving a list of chores all at the same time.
An effective way to help children to hear us better is to first get their
attention, call them by name. Next, make one request at a time. Thank your
child for their help. Then, make a second request. Finally, as children
grow older, a short written list of ideas can help both you and your child
to stay focused.
MAKING OPPORTUNITIES FOR
LISTENING/TALKING WITH OUR YOUNGSTERS!
- Talk face-to-face with your baby. Smile,
speak softly - than more loudly, change your speaking tone.
- Talk about what is around you. Point to
the lamp, book, or tree and name them.
- As your baby coos or makes sounds, smile
and say, "Yes," or "You talk so well."
- Name objects in your child's world, the
stop sign, the cow in the field, or the big truck.
- Talk about what things do, like the
knife cuts the apples, or the shovel digs the hole.
- Ask your child questions, and listen to
their answers.. .without interrupting. Where is that bird? What is that
- Go outside and listen for sounds. Talk
about what you both hear. The wind.. where is the wind? The dog
barking.. is it a big dog?
- Continue to name objects that may be new
to your child.
- Listen for their questions about things
they discover and wonder about. Answer their questions in words they
- Think about new experiences your child
will enjoy. A visit to the library, a golf course, or a farm can lead to
lots of talking about what happens here or who works here.
- Preschoolers love books. Read often.
Talk about what the characters are doing.
- Talk about the music or the program that
your child watched. Listening and remembering encourages thinking skills
School Aged Children:
- Children this age love to talk about
their friends. Listen and show interest by asking questions about their
- Encourage reading together. Yes,
together! Take turns reading pages or paragraphs of a story. Talk about
what might happen in the next chapter.
- Ask about your child's day at school, or
the birthday party they attended. Show an interest in what they are
- Talk about your activities. Share what
you are doing or something comical that happened.
- Encourage children to talk directly with
others: grandparents, teachers, friends. Help them find the words they
may need to discuss a concern they might have.
- Listen carefully. Restate their idea to
see if you are on target with their concern/idea.
Pre-Teens and Teens:
- Arrange private times together. This
could be during a drive to the store, or before bedtime. Private time
together encourages special talks between you and your child.
- Realize that talking more with friends
is part of your child's development. Allow your child the freedom to
talk with others.
- Listen carefully to their ideas and
concerns. You might not agree with their reaction to a situation, but
you can describe why another way to handle the situation could be
- As pre-teens and teens grow they are
looking for independence. Watch for things they are doing well, thank
them or offer them encouragement.
- Include your child in family decisions
when possible. Family vacations, visiting grandparents, or pancake
breakfasts can be discussed together. Paying bills, helping with
chores at home, or planting the garden can also be discussed.
- Speak and listen respectfully. Your
child is learning from you how to react to others.