Parent-Child Communication Tips. How to talk to kids!

Welcome back to Best Case Parenting, where we have been discussing parenting skills and the qualities of a good parent. We hope to continue that here.

The parent-child relationship is an important bond in parenting, maybe the ultimate bond. Effective communication skills for parents plays a massive role in this, as it improves the daily interactions between you and your child. This is all about learning how to talk to your children in a better way!

What is effective communication for parents in a nutshell? Parents need to communicate with their children in a calm and loving way. Take the time to explain things to their children and be a good role model to follow. Don’t repeat yourself too much (turns into nagging!) and be a good listener, as well as a good communicator 🙂

Now let’s take a deeper look into this subject!

Think about the nature of your communication!

For our first step to good communication, we need to think more about how we say things, not necessarily what we say. Tone and delivery is very important when it comes to effective communication with children.

If we think about the number of times we talk with our children in a day, you will probably conclude its a large amount. If most of these are delivered as strict commands, do you think your child would be happy?

Would you be happy is someone gave you so many strict commands in a day?

You are far more likely to see a child acting adversely, if most of the communications they have with parents take this form.

I recently did an article titled “Positive Parenting Skills with Young Children.” Clearly positive parenting and effective communication go hand in hand.

Also, be careful not to bombard your child with questions! Some parents think they have to turn every single moment into a learning opportunity and find out what their child knows. Often, this will lead to a string of questions and a child that feels overwhelmed.

All conversations you have with your child should be natural, not forced in the name of teaching them something or finding out what they know. Your child will see straight through this!!

parent child communication tips.

So what can we do to change this?

Well, we need to take the commanding nature out of some of our interactions with our child. Turn some of the short, sharp interactions into more valuable conversations. This is the starting point for effective communication skills for parents.

I understand why a lot of parents get into this habit. Most parents are busy, and short and sharp interactions are a good way to move things along at a decent pace. I am not saying that you need to take these away completely, but just reduce their amount.

Stay calm

As stated above, I did a recent article on positive parenting, and in that I talked about remaining calm. It is always important that we take the emotion out of these situations.

When you raise your voice or shout at a child your are, not only ruling them by fear, but putting them in a defensive mindset. Their natural and primitive instincts will kick in, allowing them to almost fight their way out of the situation. This won’t end well!

By keeping calm and talking the situation through with your child, you are helping them learn positive behaviour in a much better way. You are helping their rational side to come out, rather than the primitive one.

Being calm, also helps you to have a clear mind and react to the situation in a much more appropriate way.

Another important point is that shouting and screaming at a child regularly renders the usefulness of it. Your child might be scared at first, but will soon get used to it and won’t bat an eyelid when you shout in the future!

Only use shouting or raised voices sparingly, in really important situations, then it will still carry weight and significance. Your child will instantly know you are really upset!

Be a role model

Your child is much more likely to take you seriously if you “practise what you preach”. Your children look up to you and will mimic the attitudes and behaviours they see in you.

This makes it paramount that you lead them by example. They will learn effective communication skills from you. Showing your children how you regularly deal with situations in a positive way will help them grow up to do the same.

Show your children that you are a good communicator and a good listener, and they will simply learn these traits from you!

Don’t repeat yourself so much

Consider this. A lot of the interactions with our children are us regurgitating old information to ​them. So instead of always repeating yourself and having a negative effect on your child (commonly known as nagging), why not put more of the responsibility on them.

Not only will it make it seem like less of a “command from on high”, but your child is being encouraged to think for themselves.

Start asking them such things as “Can you remember what to do now?” or “What should you do when this happens?”

You will find that your child will respond to this much better than a long string of strict instructions.

When your child makes a mistake, you can ask them “What are you going to do now?”

If they break something accidentally, just calmly ask them what they will do now. Rather than the parent instructing them and making them feel worse about the situation, you can turn it into something more constructive.

Children will fail sometimes. We can turn this more into a learning experience rather than a simple scolding. In fact, learning from mistakes is an important part of their childhood.

You also need to give children a chance to improve after making mistakes, rather than simply scolding them straight away! 

What is parent/child communication?

There are times they need choices!

There are times in parenting when you need to ask open ended questions. This is mainly when they are exploring the world around them or solving specific problems. My recent article on opened ended questions should explain that further.

However, when it comes to daily routines that are repeated many times, we want to restrict this to more defined choices. This is because we want to make the routine appealing to the child, but not too open that it will end up in a lengthy negotiation!

As well as this, sometimes an open ended question can be too open and put stress on the child!

Especially for young children, asking them where they want to go today may lead to anxious feelings for them. Replacing this by, “Would you like to go to the park or the garden?” gives clearly defined choices, and will likely result in less resistance.

I am an adult and when my wife asks me “Where should we eat dinner tonight?”, I get anxious trying to think of where the best place would be! Usually, I have to rack my brains for several minutes and often end up trawling Google for ideas (my wife is quite demanding! ha ha).

This would be much worse for a child.

Some help from the parent would go a long way here!

Don’t just say NO

Like I said before, many parents have very busy lives, and it can be so easy to slip into the habit of just saying “No” to your child’s requests that you don’t agree with. These “No” answers can really be a demoralising factor for your child and make the situation worse.

It’s important that we show our children the thinking process behind that “No”, to help them understand better for future.

Maybe, if they know the reasoning behind a decision then they may be less likely to ask in the future. At the very least, they are being encouraged to think about this situation in a deeper way and being engaged in the process. This is far more likely to help a child have more positive feelings about the situation.

A flat out no, will be more likely to breed resentment. If we don’t explain the reasons behind a decision, your child will simply start theorising their own reasons (which likely be more negative than the real reason!). 

You can also try to make your answers more positive by just saying “Yes” more. Of course, that doesn’t mean we are giving in to all our children’s whims, it simply means we are framing our answers in a positive way. “Yes, you can eat that cake if you eat your dinner first.” This sounds much better to the child than a simple “No”. There have been a lot of studies in the business world that show that this strategy can be effective in the workplace. Well, it can be equally as effective in the home.

In fact, you can frame any of your regular requests to your child in a more positive way. Instead of saying “Don’t run at home” you could change this to “walk please.” The statement naturally sounds more positive and less “naggy.”

Earlier in the article, we talked about replacing strict instructions with questioning. This is also valid here. Rather than saying “No” you can ask them “Are we supposed to eat cake now?”. Again, you are engaging them in the process rather than just saying “No.”

Be a good listener

Effective communication is not only about talking, it’s about listening and giving value to what the other person is saying. By listening to your child’s ideas, you are showing them you care about them and their point of view. If your child thinks you care about their views, they are more likely to express them regularly.

A part of this is giving your child time and not making them feel rushed. You need to be patient with a young child and let them finish expressing their idea before you offer a counter response.

Too many adults cut children’s speech off to rush in with their own ideas of what a child is saying or to offer their response. This is not modeling good listening and shouldn’t be done.

Eye contact will also send your child a message that you are paying attention and actually listening to what they are saying. So, be sure to give your child good eye contact when they are talking or trying to explain something.

Don’t go to far with baby talk!

When a child really is a baby, baby talk is fine! But I find many parents still talk to their children in a far too simplified way when talking with toddlers or even preschoolers!

We need to expose our children to more complex language for them to start understanding it and to create curiosity. A child understands new language by this very exposure. The more times they hear a word, the more the context will sink in.

Am I asking you to talk about quantum physics with your child? Clearly not!

Just use common sense and gradually expose your child to more complex language. Try to explain something using some more complex words and see what happens. Don’t dumb things down too much.

Also, for some reason a lot of adults feel they have to talk differently when they talk to young children. They come out with some really weird sounding intonation or talk really slow! I think famous children’s TV presenters are to blame for this!

We don’t need to talk to our children like we have just drank three cans of Red Bull!! Just be natural and normal, respect your child for the small adult they really are!

Don’t just have crisis meetings

It is quite common for parent’s to only “call a meeting” with their child when there is a big problem or a crisis. The child grows up thinking of these meetings as something negative.

Why not have regular “meetings” with your child to talk over what is happening in your family.

Business people have such meetings on a regular basis to plan, discuss, highlight problems, negotiate etc. Wouldn’t these be great tools to utilise in your family life too? To pre-empt problems, to talk through situations that already happened.

In my recent article about positive parenting, I also talked about the importance of not discussing or negotiating with your child in the heat of the moment. However, these types of meetings are a great place to discuss this and agree on future agreed behaviour. Your child will be encouraged to express their ideas fully t these times, with no time pressures or restrictions. 

Family meetings shouldn’t only be for a crisis situation. What would happen if business’ only had meetings when there were crisis’?

To make these meetings more fun for the children, you could run them like a real business meeting and give everyone roles. As well as discussing family issues, the children will be far more motivated to take part in the role play aspect. Turn the meetings into a fun family bonding experience, with the added bonus of increasing the level of communication within your family.

It is important to always start these meetings in a positive way. Don’t just start with negative events. You can start by asking the different family members to compliment each other on things they did well, for example. At the end of the meeting, you can all make promises for areas you can improve or things you will do in the upcoming week.

These meetings are not a one sided affair either. Allow the children to have their say, to have valid input in to the discussions and the decisions being made. You will build a family bond which is much more a partnership rather than a dictatorship!

What is a good parent/child relationship?
Make family discussions normal, not just for crisis situations!

In Conclusion

As I say in many articles, this is not the 100% perfect guide to effective communication with your children. Although I hope it gives you a starting point and some tools to help you begin the process.

You cannot implement all these techniques all of the time, no one is a super human parenting machine. But, if you can start turning in that direction, you should see some good results.

I hope you can see how vital effective communication skills for parents are. They will be the key to building a positive relationship with your child.

You will be doing things that impact them for the rest of their lives. Listening to their ideas, empathising with their position and developing a trusting relationship (to name just a few).

​Building a positive family culture will be one of the most important things for your children.

There are many parenting skills that make up the qualities of a good parent. If you master effective communication, you will be well along the road already!

​If you have any pearls of wisdom about YOUR idea of the qualities of a good parent, leave them below in the comment section. What parenting skills do you value? What’s your idea of effective communication skills for parents?

I want this website to be a place for two way communication and a discussion point for parents around the world! 

Further Reading

You will probably find this post at the bottom of many of my educational posts, and for good reason. By reading my website you should get some good snapshots of parenting information. There is an excellent parenting resource out there that brings all of this information together in one neat package. This parenting resource has been my top one ever since I found it!

It is a course and community called Positive Parenting Solutions.

If you want to go straight to their website, you can click HERE.

Or, if you would rather read my full and honest review first, click HERE.

I am seriously in awe of what Amy McCready has made over there!!

Leave a Reply