Effective communication is a key life skill, and it’s important for us to help our children as they develop their communication skills from an early age. The way a child is able to communicate impacts the process of learning and the meaningful exchange of information. A child who is able to clearly communicate his or her thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a classroom setting is more likely to perform better at school than a student who does not communicate effectively. Children with strong communication skills are also more likely to build healthy relationships with others as they encounter more opportunities to socialize with peers because they are better equipped to express themselves and convey their feelings more effectively.
Just like with any other skill, your child’s communication skills can be improved with practice, and there are several approaches you may find helpful as a parent to help your child. Here’s a list of tips you can to help your child develop strong communication skills.
Encourage conversation as often as possible
As a parent, it’s important for you to encourage your child to begin or join in on conversations as much as possible. We know that as children develop and grow, they learn how to socialize by practicing their burgeoning conversational skills, as they observe what works for them in different situations. But did you know that it’s also important for adults, especially parents, to help kids practice these skills?
Start with casual conversations, such as the ones you may have while preparing a meal together or during a car ride. If you’re in the car together, you may chat about where you’re going, discuss the destination, and ask your child how he or she is feeling. If you’re working together in the kitchen, you can encourage conversation by talking about the recipe and the steps involved. Engage by answering your child’s questions, especially if you get the sense that your child is enthusiastic about being involved.
Listen to what your child has to say
Listening is also a vital skill for kids to learn at an early age. A great way to teach your child about the importance of good listening skills is by modeling this behavior yourself. Active listening skills start with you as a parent in order to set an example for your child. When children are repeating what you say and mimicking your actions, it shows that repetition reinforces the behavior we want our children to learn. We see this when we teach our kids about manners or how to act in social interactions (for example, saying “Hello” back to someone.
You can model good listening skills by paying attention to what your child says. Repeat back part of what your child has said to confirm your understanding. It’s also a good idea to follow up with a question. For example, you may say, “It looks like you had a great time during your art session. What kind of project do you plan to work on next time?”
Make conversations fun
Another tip for teaching good communication skills to kids is to incorporate fun into conversations. There are days when it may feel challenging to come up with interesting topics. You can start by sharing a funny story or experience you had during the day. Then, encourage your child to share their own funny stories or talk about activities they did at school.
Read with your child
Reading skills are an essential aspect of effective communication and overall language development. Reading skills benefit children in so many ways, including teaching new words, expanding their vocabulary, and enhancing their cognitive abilities.
Research also shows that children who read regularly tend to be more empathetic toward others than children without exposure to the written word. When kids read, it enables them to experience the joy and pain of others through stories.
Teach children how to take turns
Because listening is part of effective communication, it’s important to teach your child how to wait for his or her turn to speak. You can practice this by using toys or playing games. For example, you may play a game in which the person holds the ball when it’s his or her turn to speak. Your child then waits for the ball to be passed to him or her before speaking.
Good communication skills aren’t something that children are born with. This is where your role as parents comes in. Follow these tips to help you teach your child about communication skills so he or she can be better equipped for success in school, and beyond.
For more parenting tips and resources, feel free to visit Cornerstone Learning Center.