Communicating Effectively with Your Children - dummies

Communicating Effectively with Your Children

By Sue Atkins

Part of Raising Happy Children For Dummies Cheat Sheet (UK Edition)

Notice and think about how you communicate with your children on a daily basis. ‘Talking at’ your child and ‘talking with’ your child are two very different things – rather like ‘laughing at’ or ‘laughing with’ someone. Here are some tips for improving your communication with your children:

  • Ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question needs a descriptive answer. Open-ended questions typically begin with interrogative words – how, what, when, who and where. Open-ended questions help a child develop his or her thought processes.

  • Listen to your tone of voice. Pay attention over the next week to how you say things to your children. If you don’t like how you’re saying things, change your tone. Have you ever heard your child admonishing another with your exact words and tone? Scary, isn’t it?

  • Make eye contact. If your message is important, deliver it while keeping eye contact. Maintain eye contact when you listen to your child’s reply, showing that you’re really engaged with them.

  • Repeat back what your children say. Doing so shows them that you really understand them and are taking the time to listen. Paraphrase and summarise the gist of what your kids have said rather than repeating them parrot-fashion.