From birth, communicating with your child is one of the most important things you’ll do. As a baby, it helps them feel safe and secure in their world, and as they continue to grow, it becomes an essential part of their development.
That development is a key factor in how older children will approach their relationships later in life. And not only with you as their parents, but with the entire world around them: other children, friends, teammates, teachers, the list goes on. How we communicate with our children has a big impact on how they will develop and interact with the world around them.
Child psychologists, like those at New Vision Psychology in Sydney, have discovered a lot of ways that help us better communicate with our children. Below, we’ve picked out 3 important tips.
1. Be an Active Listener
Like communicating with other adults, being an active listener with your child is one of the best ways to improve your communication. One of the easiest ways to do so is to follow up on what they’re saying with questions or comments that invite them to continue.
For example, saying something as simple as “really?” or “tell me more!” encourages your child to continue talking, and lets them know you’re interested. You should also be looking at them when they’re talking to you, letting them pick up your engagement through body language.
Here are a few other tips for active listening with your child:
- Make good eye contact and stop whatever else it is you’re doing
- Get down on their level (kneel or sit down so that you’re both at the same eye-level)
- Repeat things they say back to them to make sure you’re understanding correctly
If you do this, your child will grow more confident in sharing with you. This is invaluable for their continued development and your relationship as they get older. They’ll be far more comfortable sharing their hopes with you throughout life, resulting in a better relationship.
2. Talk with Them and Not at Them
The next step towards developing better communication with your child is to talk with them, and not at them. This means more of having two-sided conversations instead of giving instructions and demands. Actively listen to your child and explain to them why you’re asking them to do something.
Talking with your child also involves speaking about yourself as well, rather than just focusing on them.
Of course, this is challenging to do when your child is young and has a limited vocabulary, but as they develop it will pay off as you continue to do it. This helps them understand that their feelings and thoughts are valid, and they’ll be more comfortable sharing their opinions with you.
It also turns your child into a better listener, as they learn not to cut in when others haven’t finished speaking.
Talking “at” a child will again give them the impression that their thoughts and feelings don’t matter. As they grow up, they’ll feel as if the parent-child relationship is all about having to do what the adult wants. Instead, practice not cutting them off, giving directions without explanations, and listening to what they have to say.
Here are a few more tips from psychologists on how you can have better two-sided conversations.
3. Use Kind Words When Speaking
It’s a simple method to use for improving the communication between you and your child: using kind words when speaking with them. Kids pick up on so much behavior that we exhibit, so it’s important to treat them with kindness and respect in our language.
We know it can sometimes be hard, especially when your child is throwing their fifth or sixth temper tantrum that morning.
But remaining cool and continuing to speak appreciatively of your child will give them greater self-worth in the long run. This in turn brings about more confidence to communicate as they grow older.
Using words like “please”, “thank you”, and “I love you” will all work wonders in bettering the communication between you and your child. They’ll also grow into young children with great manners, which will allow them to thrive in real-world situations.
Language and children are tricky topics, as kids will always pick up on and mimic the things we do.
But by taking these tips back into conversations with your children, your communication should improve, and your child will develop healthy ways of communicating not only with you but the world around them.