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How to Speak to Your Child Effectively

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

By: Melissa De Los Santos

Open communication is key in your relationship with your children.

Give them your full attention

When your child is telling you something, pay attention. Make sure you are facing them and showing them that you are focused on what they are saying. Ask a few questions and encourage them to share more about their lives. When a child feels you are interested in what they have to say, they will be more comfortable to talk to you.

Watch your tone

Children (even adults!) start blocking you out when you say something in a tone they feel is demeaning. You don’t even need to be shouting — as long as they feel criticized and undermined, they stop listening.

For example, elementary-aged children do not appreciate being talked to in the same way as you would to a primary-aged child. The older child may feel disrespected, and will start ignoring you. Be aware of how you say things and make sure you adjust your tone to ensure effective communication.   

Calm down

Try not to talk to your children when you are extremely upset. You are more likely to say hurtful things when you are aggravated. Take a few minutes to calm down, and then explain why you are dismayed. When your child understands your feelings, they will be more open to sharing theirs.   

Big words

Try not to use too many words that young children will not understand, especially when you don’t explain what they mean. How can they have a conversation with you when they don’t understand half of the words you are saying? When you are talking to children, the simpler the better.    

Hold the advice

When your child comes to you with something they want to talk about, make sure you listen intently and figure out what they need first before you start giving advice. It is possible that your child is sharing with you because they need help solving a problem, but sometimes, all they need is for someone to listen. Don’t impose your advice on them unless they specifically ask for it. Sometimes all children need is for their parents to listen to them.

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