Are you wondering how to improve verbal communication with your child? Today’s guest post features three simple steps to improving your child’s verbal communication skills.
How to Improve Verbal Communication With Your Child
The ability to ask questions, respond appropriately, take turns in a conversation, and have needs met shapes every relationship children have from birth through school and beyond. Here are three simple ways to improve your child’s communication at every age.
1) Improve Verbal Communication by Being an Active Listener
Today’s fast-paced world is full of distractions, making it more difficult than ever to be an active listener. However, minimizing distractions serves two purposes: First, it makes your child feel as though what he or she has to say is important. This sense of security is vital for teenagers who will often clam up if they feel ignored, but it is also necessary for infants who communicate in their own way. If your baby coos, coo back. If your baby laughs, laugh with him or her.
Second, active listening encourages more communication. Have you ever asked a 4-year-old about his or her favorite movie or story character? Beyond that initial question, many 4-year-olds will continue talking long after they have exhausted your ability to pay attention. Extend your own listening by asking periodic questions that dive deeper into story, character traits and feelings. This active listening activity encourages give and take — a skill many adults find challenging. It’s important to keep questions curious rather than probing, especially when speaking with older children. The last thing you want is for an innocent conversation to turn into an interrogation.
2) Take Advantage of Odd Times and Spaces to Improve Verbal Communication
If your child is already verbal, think of the last time you had a great conversation with him or her. It may have happened when you were doing dishes, driving in the car, getting ready for bed or walking to school. As surprising as it may seem, the lack of eye contact in these parallel positions helps children and teens talk more feely than sitting eye to eye. These are also generally times when distractions are kept to a minimum. Take advantage of these times and spaces and allow your kids or teens to open up rather than shooing them out or moving them on to the next task.
3) Read Together — Even When They Can Read Themselves
It is impossible to overstate the importance of reading with your child. Infants associate reading with closeness and comfort, even when they cannot follow the story. Toddlers learn early reading concepts such as the direction a page is turned and how we read print. However, only 17 percent of parents read to their children after their 9th birthday.
Many of us assume that once our children can read on their own, reading together is no longer a necessary pastime. In reality, reading aloud to your preteens and teenagers can spark conversations and open doors of communication that would otherwise remain closed. It also continues to enhance your children’s language and both written and verbal communication skills. Create a family book club and take turns selecting popular books to read together. You can even set a specific time to discuss the book, create a themed menu, dress like a character or make a special treat based on the book.
Learning how to communicate with other people begins the minute your children open their eyes. Active listening — including taking turns and asking curious questions, taking advantage of the “in between” times, and reading together — throughout your children’s lives can enhance their communication skills as well as yours.
Author bio: Lisa Orlando is Senior Vice President, Marketing and Strategy of the Invo Family of Companies, which includes Invo-Progressus — a provider of employment and professional development for therapists. The company connects qualified candidates with job opportunities across the United States.