In this digital age, where children have their heads buried in the latest ‘must-have’ device, it has become easier to send a text message than to pick up the phone and have an actual conversation. It is now more essential than ever for your child to work on their communication skills for their development, which is a key skill that will carry them throughout their school and adult life. Being able to express yourself confidently also promotes mental wellness.
But how do you engage your child in answers of more than one or two syllables? We’ll show you some ingenious ways to get them talking.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
It’s easy to slip into a routine where you ask children questions that end in a “yes” or “no” answer. We’ve all done it. “Did you have a good time at school today?” “Yes”. “Can you please do the dishes?” “No”.
In order to strike up a conversation and foster communication with children, you have to ask the sorts of questions that result in a full response, ideally including a prompt. Questions that encourage your child to share, describe and explain their ideas, such as “What are you reading at the moment?”, are the way forward.
Extend The Conversation
When talking with your child, make a conscious effort to build on the conversation by asking questions or restating something they previously mentioned. Not only will this make them feel more confident in their verbal skills, but it also shows that you are engaged and listening to their ideas.
Let Your Child Speak For Themselves
It is all too easy to jump the gun and answer for your child if they are struggling to reply to a question, especially if they’re of a younger age. However, it is situations like these that allow them to learn how to communicate effectively, even if it takes a little more time to formulate a response. Sometimes rephrasing the question can give them a better understanding of what it is you’re asking.
Being able to articulate your thoughts and ideas when caught off guard or put on the spot is a milestone in a child’s development and can help to prepare them for real-world scenarios, such as school or university interviews and situations involving pressure.
Respond With And Talk About Emotion
As a child, it is important that when you open up about your feelings, that you feel heard and not ridiculed or shamed. Being open and honest can often lead to feelings of vulnerability and anxiousness. Breaking down those barriers and cultivating an environment where sharing feelings is normal and accepted, is essential for a healthy parent-child relationship.
Encouraging or prompting a child to describe or explain how they’re feeling helps them to stay in tune with their emotions and work through any issues they may be having. Talking about their feelings can also help a child from becoming exasperated further. Listening and responding with emotion affirms that you’re invested in their wellbeing and that you care about what they have to say.
Emotion can also be used as a tool to problem solve, fostering the development of empathy and the understanding of other people’s feelings in a given situation.
Refrain From Using Negative Phrases
It is common for parents to use negative phrases, such as “you’re acting like a five year old” when commenting on their child’s behaviour. However, this can promote negative feelings that can lead to a depreciation of their self-worth.
Coming up with a positive solution together such as “let’s tidy this up” instead of projecting a negative statement, such as “you’ve made a horrible mess” can actually help nurture a child’s initiative and encourage them to admit when they’ve made a mistake.
Observe Your Child’s Body Language
Children often don’t have to speak to express what they are feeling and responding to non-verbal cues, such as body language can have a big impact on communication development in children. For a parent to acknowledge that their child might need to speak about something, but haven’t got the confidence to say, asking a simple question such as ‘you’re very quiet, how are you feeling?’ can really help them to open up.
Being understanding and providing a solution or an emotional response to their problem can help nurture a child’s trust, making it that bit easier for them to open up next time. If they do give a negative response, try not to overreact, instead, be sympathetic.
Relate To Your Personal Experiences
Don’t be afraid to give advice. Relating your experiences to that of your child’s experience shows them that they are not alone. It also allows them to see the situation from another point of view and presents the chance for them to ask how you handled it yourself.
Given the opportunity to explain at length will also help your child to pick up words and phrases from your vocabulary, thereby widening theirs.
Ask For Their Opinion
Not only should you offer your own opinion when talking with your child about their experiences, but you should also ask what your child thinks should be done in a given situation.
Get them involved in day-to-day decisions, such as “what plant shall we buy for the garden?” or “what should we make for tea when Nana and Grandad come around?”. This will help to stimulate their problem-solving, decision-making and analytical skills.
Encourage Your Child To Ask For Help
It can be daunting to admit when you need help and it is often perceived as a sign of weakness. Admitting to one’s problems and asking for help is actually a great strength, it shows that we are willing to learn from our mistakes and are open to other’s point of view.
If your child has a problem, encourage them to ask for help from their peers, teachers or family members. This can lead to an increase in confidence and ability. Sometimes all that is needed is the confirmation they were headed in the right direction.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
The best way to encourage communication development in children is through practice. Finding moments in the day that can be filled with conversation, such as the walk or drive to school, before bed and during meal times are often when you’re likely to get the most out of your child.
This is because during these activities, you aren’t actually holding eye contact, which can take the pressure off. Children often speak whilst they’re already performing a task, so take advantage of the situation and keep them talking!
How Can Achieving Success Help You?
If you’re finding it difficult to engage your child in meaningful conversation or are simply wanting to develop their communication skills, at Achieving Success we have a variety of programmes that promote communication development in children.
Our fully-qualified teachers provide bespoke tuition, designed to allow your child to perform at their best, giving them the perfect opportunity to develop their communication skills and excel in school.
If you feel your child is in need of extra guidance, please get in touch today to arrange a call-back with one of our team members. Alternatively, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call on 0121 769 2795. We’d be delighted to discuss a bespoke programme for you.