Parenting in normal circumstances is hard, and it’s been even more challenging with the changes we’ve all experienced in 2020/2021. Parents pass down genes to their children, that’s inevitable, but have you thought about what else you’re passing down to them in terms of communication skills? We’re becoming more aware of the importance of coping skills ourselves, so that we can deal with difficult situations as gracefully as possible.
What you can do as a parent to pass on excellent communication skills? Communication is an essential skill and the best way to teach your child how to communicate, is to lead by example. Start by setting a good example when communicating with other family members and friends in front of them. Here are some more communication tips:
- Give your child your full attention when you are communicating with them. Encourage them to talk with you about their thoughts and emotions.
- Listen and respond in a sensitive way.
- Use your body language to show that you’re interested in what they have to share with you.
- Set aside time for talking and also listening to each other in the family.
- Be open to talking about all emotions. This includes disappointment, sadness, guilt, excitement, contentment, happiness, etc to help them develop a ‘feelings vocabulary’.
- Involve them in conversation by asking them questions.
Communication for children is so important because it helps them cultivate other important life skills such as socialising, making friends and feeling able to communicate their emotions. To some children, this comes naturally whilst others might find the foundations of communication a bit more difficult. What can you do as a parent in this situation?
- Build a line of communication between you and your child so they can approach you without any hesitation.
- Give your child the chance to process what they are trying to say without interrupting them or finishing the sentence for them.
- When you are communicating with them, make sure you take turns to speak and also engage in proper eye-contact
Communication Activity: Emotion Charades
This is a fun game to play to help your child understand different emotions and how they can express them, not only with their words but also with their facial expressions and body language. These all form part of communication skills too. It helps to show them that non-verbal communication cues complement verbal communication. Write down different emotions and let everyone take turns to pick one to act out. You can also play this as a game of Pictionary!