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5 Tips for Effective Communication with Children

Sometimes it can feel like our children just won’t listen or like every request we make is met with whining or a tantrum. Here are five tips for more effective communication with your children!

  1. Be clear and concise. Pay attention to the words you use and be sure to keep your message clear and to the point. The more we ramble on, the more diluted our message becomes. The younger the child, the more brief your instructions or limits should be.

  2. Focus on what they can do, not on what they can’t do. Try replacing “Don’t run!” with something like, “You may walk”. Not only does this sound more positive, it also ensures there’s no miscommunication (there’s always the chance they only hear or comprehend the word “run!”).

  3. Pay attention to your tone. Your tone often creates a certain emotional response. If it’s not an emergency or a moment requiring a firm boundary, strive for a more neutral, matter of fact tone. This can often help reduce negative or emotional reactions.

  4. Avoid asking a question (when there isn’t actually an option). Often we can find ourselves phrasing statements as questions. For example, “Ready to go?” instead of “We are leaving now”. Be careful not to offer an option when there isn’t one!

  5. Give options. Whenever possible, try to offer a choice to your child, particularly in scenarios that may often result in strong emotions. For example, if we return to the “We are leaving now” example, you could go even further and replace that statement with an option “It’s time to leave. Would you like to put on your hat first or your jacket?” Offering this choice gives your child a little sense of control and offers them something to consider other than the transition that lies ahead.

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