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Communicating Positively with Children

Methods of Communicating Positively with Children

One of the most important factors in building a relationship with your child is communicating positively.

Ask yourself how you will respond to a child who refuses to eat their meal or go to bed. On the other hand, how will you respond when your toddler pinches their older sister?


What are the Benefits of Communicating Positively with a Child

Essentially, communicating with your child helps you to understand their needs and feelings. On the other hand, it also relates to your needs and expectations of them.

Communication can aid in:

  • Breaking a pattern of unnecessary arguments.
  • Helping your child to willingly engage in cooperating with you.
  • Setting clear limits and rules, while maintaining a positive attitude.
  • Helping you express your anger, and emotions without hurting their feelings. Similarly teaching children to express themselves positively.
  • Improving your coping skills when a little one reacts negatively.
  • Helping to resolve family conflict appropriately.
  • Creating alternatives to punishment.

And yet, a desperate plea from many parents is, “How do I get my kids to listen?”.

How to Talk so Kids Will Listen

The secret to talking to a child lies in the WAY you communicate. 

Young children grow up copying their parents. So, how you speak to them will shape how they speak back to you.

How to Improve the Way You Communicate with Your Kids

Listen Actively

The key to good communication always starts with listening first. You cannot expect a child to listen if they do not feel heard.

  • Inquiry-Based Listening

Inquiry Based Listening, simply means listening attentively. Give your child your full attention. Do not go on doing chores while they speak. Do not have the television on, or your phone in front of you. Make eye contact with your child, and LISTEN. If you are unable to talk at an exact moment, give them another time, and follow through.

  • Listen Without Interrupting

If you constantly interrupt your child, they will lose interest. You cannot scold a child who is trying to explain their side of the story. Similarly, a child telling you a story in an excited mood becomes discouraged when interrupted with commands. This will only make them think twice before they share a story with you again.

  • Can We Just Talk

Talking to your children does not always relate to something constructive. Sometimes you just need to ‘talk”. In fact, it is vital to take time during the day just to chat with your child. Sit down, relax, and have a conversation about their day, their interests, and their goals. Similarly, share your own stories and views with them.

Address Your Child

It may not seem like such a big issue, but it is. Hearing your name before someone talks to you is comforting. Similarly, it gets your attention. Children are exceptionally sensitive to how you address them. Especially because it gets their attention before you speak. Younger children often only concentrate on one thing at a time. Therefore, it is vital to attract their attention, by using their name.

Use More Positive Language

Positive language use has a huge impact when communicating with children. The easiest way it employs positive words is to not say “no” or “Don’t” all the time. A few examples of positive and negative language may help you understand the concept better:

Negative Language

  • “Don’t jump on the couch”
  • “No”
  • ‘No, You cannot”
  • “Stop doing the”

Positive Language

  • “Only sitting on the couch please”
  • Instead of “No do not do that”, “Rather do this please”
  • “Hold up your coat, so it won’t drag please”
  • ‘I like the way you ….”
  • “Thank you for not…”
  • “Thank You for ….”
  • “Remember to …”

Always remember to use please, and thank you when speaking to a child. It teaches manners and gives them a feeling of appreciation.

Positive, kind words encourage children to try harder. They learn to, in turn, give the same respect to others.

Keep in mind, to always connect with a child on their level when speaking. Make eye contact, and essentially kneel to their level when speaking seriously.


Manage Your Tone of Voice

Firstly, never try to compete with a yelling child by yelling back. Speak firmly, in an audible voice, but never shout. Yelling at a child has an adverse effect, as stated before. They will either not listen, or react aggressively.

Use your voice tone appropriately to convey the feeling and seriousness of the conversation. A firm and audible voice tone is more than enough to make a point. Suppose you must wait for a child to calm down and stop yelling before speaking. Turn off the television, and reduce noise, so that you can speak calmly.

Give Options and Alternatives Rather Than Saying “NO”

It is always easier to give a child options, or alternatives rather than just blurting out “NO”. Rather than saying “No you cannot play outside”, say, “Let’s play with your toys inside”. Essentially the alternative must be better than the child’s demand, if possible. Otherwise, they may not be so willing to agree. If you have to say No, always follow up with an explanation as to why you are saying no.

Keep Any Requests Simple

Children, especially young children, have a short attention span. Thus, keep your requests short and sweet. Try to give as much information in the shortest possible way. Never bombard instructions, rather give one task, at a time. You can follow up with the next request when the first task is complete.

Never Nag or Beg

This mainly applies to their chores and responsibilities.

Rather than asking them to tidy their room, every day, set up a chart.

Organize a chart, or chore list for them with incentives. Give children a clear daily routine. Children thrive on routine.

Imitate Good Manners

Children imitate the speech and behavior of their parents. Young children tend to quickly pick up words, especially “naughty” words from their parents, faster than good words.

Ideally teach manners, such as “please”, and “thank You”, but essentially follow your own teaching.

Ask Questions for Conversation

Getting back to having a conversation with your children. If you want your kids to be more open-minded, ask open-ended questions. In short, it means rather to ask questions they can elaborate on, than simple yes and no answer questions. Respond to their ideas and answers to show interest, and voice your opinions.

Make Sure Your Child Understands You

Children often do not respond to requests, or get confused. Thus, it is vital to check if they fully understand what you have said. An easy way to do this is to ask them to repeat what you have said. Sometimes it may be necessary to rephrase your words in a simpler form.

“I” Rather than “You”

Kids often do not consider how their behavior affects others. That is why it’s vital you convey your thoughts and feelings in what to expect from them. So, rather than saying “You must”, say “I would Like you too.”. Phrases such as “When You….I feel …” are more acceptable. In a sense, it conveys how their actions and behavior make you feel. This method is much more successful when trying to get kids to comply.

Give Fair Notice

Children get busy and distracted easily with other things. Thus, a request can easily fly out the window in time. Thus, if you have requested them to do something, try to remind them in a positive way. Rather than leaving it to the last minute, give notice in advance. A good example of when you need to leave is to say. “ Sarah, please get your coat, it’s nearly time to leave.”

Do Not Sweat The Small Stuff

Try not to lecture and fuss over small things. As the saying goes ”Pick your Battles Wisely”. Enforce serious rules firmly, but let the little things go.

Never tell children what they ought to be doing, or if they did this, then that would not have happened. It is confusing, and not taken seriously. Instead, use an approach to help them think for themselves.

Consider the issue at hand, and ask the child why they think there is a problem. Discuss with them what they feel possible resolutions are. For example, a tired child, because they stayed up late. Ask them why they think they feel tired, and how they can prevent it in the future.

Be Considerate Towards Your Children

Think for a moment about how you speak to your friends and loved ones. Then compare it to how you speak to your children. Do you speak to them with the same tone and consideration? The way you speak to your children directly affects their feelings of acceptance. Showing them that you accept and love them despite their differences, creates a healthy relationship.

In the End, Conversation is Vital

Making time for conversation with your children, especially older children is vital. It is the foundation for positive Communication.

Open and considerate conversation with your children develops confidence in themselves and their parents. Comfortable communication results in positive cooperation, and a warm relationship with you as a parent.

Talk to your kids as much as you can, and listen to them. It is a two-way street!

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