10 Best Tips For Communicating With Your Child

communicating with your child

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Communicating with your child… This is a struggle for scores of parents! How do you communicate with your child what you want them to do? 
 
The truth is that your baby/child is pretty much like everyone else in the world – wholly focused on their own self-importance! They don’t necessarily have time to worry about your needs when theirs seems to be abundant.

So how can we get through to them?

I find the best way is to explain the situation. By ‘explain the situation’, I mean let them know what’s in it for them. Your child will likely want to do their own thing unless you can explain why doing your thing will benefit them more. 
 

They may even still want their way – imagine being in the middle of a task and someone comes along and picks you up and takes you away from what you were completing.

 

It’s safe to say that most of you would be incredibly frustrated! I know that I’m often called when in the middle of a task – I’m seldom ready to stop at the drop of a hat, so I don’t. I ask for some time to complete what I’m doing before I am ready to do what I am asked to – unless it is an emergency of course!

 
The same applies to your child… give them time – don’t expect them to stop what they’re doing at the drop of a hat. The crying and screaming is their way of showing frustration at their forced removal from their desired task; they may struggle to communicate in ANY way when these feelings take over.

Example

Let’s say you want your child to have a bath but your child just wants to take all the books off the shelf and scatter them across the room. You can fight with your child to get them to stop, at which point you will have a potentially crying uncooperative child who wants nothing more than to get back to what they were doing!
 
Instead

1. Explain your point

A different tact could be that we explain the benefits of having a bath. This could be that they like the bubbles, splashing around and singing bathtime songs or playing with certain bathtime toys. It could even be what happens after the bath. This could be a bedtime story, if they are younger it may be the enticement of ‘milky’.
 
Try to explain that they have to fulfil the first task before the desirable situation can take place.
 
Some children, however, are like adults, they don’t want delayed gratification, they want that hit of dopamine right now! In this case, you will need to persevere and you may need to be consistent with this method. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’ – stay patient! For us, it works in most situations, unless our daughter is overtired – in which case there is no reasoning with her. It’s her way or the highway and she just works herself up into a stupor! Pick your battles – don’t be as stubborn as your child!
 
Build these methods consistently and MAKE SURE YOU FULFIL YOUR END OF THE BARGAIN!

2. Don't lie to your child!

If you say you’re going to do something, make sure you do! If your child doesn’t trust you to keep your word, no tips will work.

I have never lied to my daughter, although there have been many occasions where this would have been the easier thing to do.

It’s important you don’t underestimate your child’s intelligence, they are absorbing everything and making little judgements about what is going on around them. 

Teach them to be truthful.

3. Know what your child responds to

Take time to observe how your child responds to things. This can be key to communicating with your child.
 
We know our daughter thrives off praise. She absolutely loves attention for doing something good! So we make sure she is always praised for doing something well.
 
Make sure when praising your little one that you’re specific about what they’ve done and make a massive fuss!
 
Our daughter now loves tidying up after she has thrown all the books on the floor – she knows she will get a massive clap, smiles, hugs and praise!
 
It also helps her to develop her fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination! Triple win!

4. Be patient

If you don’t have any, you’d better find some!
This is incredibly important as the given tips won’t work every time – especially in the beginning. While being consistent, try not to lose your temper because your child isn’t doing exactly what you want. They may well be doing what they want and you’re stopping them.
 
My daughter HATES changing her nappy; I have spent hours in the past few weeks talking to her and trying to convince her that she should lie down to change the nappy.
 
Sometimes these methods work, however, sometimes she flat out refuses, telling me “NO!” and walking off to do something else.
 
Remember parenting isn’t about your fragile ego or raising an obedient puppet. It’s about raising a nurtured individual and giving them the best life possible.
 
Do you want a child that goes through life thoughtlessly doing what they’re told? Or do you want that child that tells everyone else what to do?
 
I know I want a child that will take charge and take the lead – she is firmly on her way!
 
By stopping and forcing your child to submit to your will, you’re teaching them to submit, when what you really want is for them to understand and see the benefits in what you’re doing.
  
This is not to say that she is in charge – by no means is this the case. But she has been allowed to express herself. She has a lot of ‘BIG feelings‘ at the moment and I do my best to accommodate her, however, if I tell her no, it means NO!
 
The same as before – do not lie to your child. If you make a decision – stick to it (within reason, of course, you don’t want to cause too much distress)!

5. Communicate the benefits of being obsessive

I’m currently listening to the book “The 10X Rule” – I didn’t expect to hear anything about parenting in this book, however, I was blown away by one of the chapters. 

Grant Cardone talks about how society does it’s best to force us to be average or normal. It convinces us that being obsessive is a bad thing. When in reality, if we attacked things we cared about with a level of obsession, then we would manage to get things done to an extraordinary level. 

Having an obsessive personality doesn’t have to be a bad thing, especially if it is channelled in a positive direction. I use mine to learn new things I’m passionate about. 

When children tackle a task – they employ obsessive amounts of concentration to that chosen task. As they grow older, their parent’s and teachers are the ones that start to erode at their obsessive behaviour – usually because it’s seen as inconvenient.
 
They’re given a label as though something’s wrong with them.
 
We may well want to go somewhere, but our child is focusing on “playing” (which according to Philippa Perry is a child’s version of work.) This is a very interesting idea! To take them away from their task and force them to break their concentration for our own gain isn’t always right.
 
Notice when you see your child learning a new task, they give it everything. They keep trying to walk, regardless of how many times they fall and hurt themselves – they have a mission and don’t stop until they’ve completed that task.
 
It could take days, weeks or even months – their will doesn’t seem to bend. When they are successful, they put that energy straight into something else.
 
It is magical! Make sure you communicate with your child the benefits of being obsessive! 

6. Body language

The way we communicate with our children isn’t just verbal, our body language plays a key part.
 
If someone’s towering over us while talking, it can be quite daunting – there is quite a difference in your level to the person that’s speaking.
 
Instead of towering over your little one, try coming down to their level and talking. You may well find them more receptive.
 
Body language can also mean wagging your finger or even standing with your hands on your hips.
 
We have to be quite careful with this, our children are like little sponges and tend to emulate us. My sister’s child has started copying her teacher by telling people off with her hands on her hips.
 
You don’t want to have that bossy child who stands there wagging their finger at people.
 
My daughter has her mother’s finger, she has told off many a child and adult.
 
It is, however, incredibly cute! 

7. Talk to them, not at them

This is really important when communicating with your child. Make sure that you’re speaking with them and not just at them.
 
You want to make sure your child is understanding what you are saying. You can do this by engaging them in communication. 
 
Ask them questions to check their understanding. 
You could even ask them how they feel about the situation.

Depending on the age of the child, make sure your questions aren’t just ‘do you understand?’ Through my many years of teaching, I can tell you that scores of children who don’t understand will just say they do… This could be to ‘not look stupid’ or even to just move on.

8. Actively engage with your child, don't be passive

When your child is trying to talk to you, give them your time! Put down the damned phone!
 
Your child is important – show them.
 

If your child wants to talk to you about something, that something may well be important to them. 

Don’t just stare at your screen or continue with whatever else you are doing, engage with them and show them you are interested.
 
Failing to do this could very well leave you with a child that doesn’t want to share their news or thoughts with you. This tip is really good to help build and sustain a bond with your child. 
 
Communicating with your child doesn’t have to be too dissimilar to communicating with adults. If you employ respect, then you encourage it back. 
 
It may not always be convenient. Trust me, I know. As a teacher you always have people coming to you to talk – adults and children.
 
If you don’t have the time or are fully engaged in something – you are important too! Just let them know that you can give them attention in a short while.
 
For your child, let them know that you really want to know what they have to say, but you need to just finish what you are doing first. Make them aware that you want to give them your undivided attention, but to do so, you will need to quickly finish what you are doing.
 
This will show them that they’re important and will help with their self-esteem.

9. Be firm but fair

At the end of the day, your word is final and your child needs to know that. More often than not, your child will accept this, even if they don’t like it.
 
Make sure your child is aware of your rules from the beginning and why those rules are there, they should have no problem following them, or accepting the consequences of breaking those rules.
 
I employ this same tactic with my daughter and all my classes. I have very few behavioural problems across all my classes. Make sure you follow through with your sanctions consistently, this way they won’t come as a shock.
 
It will be unfair if you don’t always follow these rules and you pick and choose when to employ them. They won’t know when to follow the rules and when they don’t count.
 
This can be incredibly confusing and cause frustration and arguments.

10. Lead by example!

“Do as I say and not as I do”. THIS IS BALONEY HOMEY!
 
If you want your child to respect you and not resist you, you have to lead the way. The same in the classroom, you can’t tell the children to not use their phone, yet you sit at your desk and text your friends… That’s not on and it causes tension between you and the children/people you are leading!
 
Don’t ask someone to do something for you, you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself. Unless it’s their job of course.
 
As your child gets older, they will start to emulate you. You can’t smoke 20 cigarettes a day and tell your child not to smoke because it is bad for their health. 
 
The same applies to alcohol consumption. Show your child right from wrong and they will follow you. If you spend all your time sitting down watching tv, your child will grow up to do the same.
 
I bet you are wondering – “how does this link to communication?”
 
Here we need to employ some of that delayed gratification I was talking to you about earlier. This may not affect your communication instantly, however, as your child grows – they will question you and argue with you. Children are sponges – believe me, they will retain because they are learning your behaviour.
 
Communicating with your child is the key. You are showing them how to communicate, so you need to lead. If you don’t want to raise a child who spends their whole day shouting at others, you can’t spend the whole day shouting at your spouse. They learn a lot more from us than you realise, especially what is right and wrong.
 

Summary

Following the above 10 tips will make communicating with your child a cinch! 

If we take the time to explain why and give them reasons to follow our instructions, these two things in themselves will be super helpful. 

By employing these strategies, as well as leading by example and speaking to them on a level will make the world of difference. Remember, it is us who has to teach them the rules of communication. 

Good luck on your journey! I know you’ll do splendidly! 

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