11 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Communication
One of the hardest and most frustrating things about being a parent or carer is knowing how to communicate with children. Reading, writing and speaking are all essential communication skills for children and should be nurtured and developed. Being an effective communicator is an essential and advantageous skill for later in life, so working on these communication skills from a young age will ensure that your child has the best possible start.
There are many ways of communicating with children, including reading together, role-playing and sometimes simply listening. Here at moonstonedaycare, we are passionate about communication with children.
Here are our Top 11 Ways to Communicate with Children, which can be used to communicate with children of all ages. From young babies to toddlers, and even right up to the time they fly the nest!
- 1, Create a Positive and Encouraging Listening Environment
If your child feels that they are being criticised or not understood, they may become more reserved and shy when it comes to their speech. This could potentially lead to delays in their development. By complimenting and making positive comments about your child’s communication skills, even if they aren’t perfect, you will give your child confidence to communicate with other children and new people. Remember, it’s not about being perfect straight away, your child will refine their vocabulary and pronunciation over time. It is about positive reinforcement and encouragement. Another helpful piece of advice on how to communicate with your child is to delay correction and be considerate when giving feedback.
- 2. Read With Your Child
Reading a book to your child before bed is not only a fantastic way to get your child off to sleep but also an effective method of effortlessly introducing new words and phrases. By listening to a story, it will help them to understand sentence structure, tone of voice and even different voices (if you choose to be creative). Without noticing it, your child will take in this information and in turn use these sounds, words and intonations when communicating with other children. Reading exciting stories will also spark up their imagination and boost their creativity.
- 3. Comment Rather Than Question
If you are constantly questioning your child they may begin to feel as if they are doing things wrong or may begin doubting their own communication skills. It is good to ask some questions to test their knowledge and get them used to common conversation, however, if every form of communication comes as a question this might become a bit stressful for your child. By commenting on objects, actions or surroundings, your child will pick up vocabulary that allows them to make educated comments and express their opinions. For example, rather than saying ‘What colour is the sky?’, say ‘Look the sky is blue! Blue sky!’. This way you are teaching rather than testing and your child will connect the word with the visuals. This is especially effective when communicating with babies as they are not yet able to answer the question but are still taking in the information.
- 4. Ask Open-Ended Questions
An open-ended question is a question that cannot be answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’. As a result, this requires the answerer to provide you with a more detailed and thorough answer. It is easy for your child to simply answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. By essentially forcing them to provide you with a detailed answer you are able to communicate with your child on a more intellectual level, and you are allowing them to both speak and listen to a wider range of words. It also teaches them how to hold a proper conversation with others – it would be a pretty short conversation if they only ever answered with ‘yes’ or ‘no’!
- 5. Be a Narrator
Children are extremely attentive and are constantly listening and soaking in all the sights and sounds around them – even if it doesn’t seem that way! One simple way to encourage and improve your child’s communication skills is to narrate daily activities. Children take in a lot of information from their parents and other people that are around them, so by describing your actions or commenting on objects you are reinforcing these words both aurally and visually. It is also subconscious so requires little effort from your child – they will be improving their communication skills without even noticing it!
- 6. Play With Words
Improving your child’s communication skills doesn’t need to be boring! Have fun with it, by adding dance moves, funny faces and rhymes. By responding with expressions and gestures this will encourage your child to link words to their own movements and expressions. They will learn words faster if there is a gesture or action connected to it. Even if your baby is not able to speak yet, they will be soaking in all the information like a sponge to be used at a later date. It can be hard to know how to communicate with babies but just because your little one is not speaking, it does not mean that they are not remembering sounds and connecting them to what they see.
- 7. Build Their Vocabulary
If you are talking about a person, place or thing, a great way to improve your child’s communication skills is to expand their vocabulary further by asking for or teaching them more information. For example, if your child says ‘Lion!’, ask them questions like ‘what colour is the lion?’, ‘what sounds does a lion make?’. This helps them to not only learn nouns, but also introduces adjectives and other sounds into their vocabulary.
You can even begin to introduce sentence structure into your child’s vocabulary to be expanding further. For example, ‘The lion is yellow’, becomes ‘The yellow lion roars’, becomes ‘The yellow lion roars on the rock’ and so on.
- 8. Speak About Their Feelings
Raw emotion is something that children are able to express innately from birth. For example, when they are sad, tired or hungry they will cry or show signs of distress. By introducing words to describe these feelings, they will soon begin to link the way they are feeling to the emotion. This may also help you as a parent to understand what exactly your child is trying to communicate. One of the hardest and most frustrating things about communicating with your child is understanding how they are feeling, so if you are able to encourage them to express their feelings verbally or physically then it will make communicating with your baby or child easier.
- 9. Pretend
By playing and acting out scenarios you are enabling your child to use language that they may not normally use during standard daily activities. It helps you to introduce words and phrases that they would not normally come across, and show them new objects and activities. For example, pretending to be doctors in a hospital can help them to quickly learn new words such as body parts and instruments. Pretending to be chefs can teach them nouns such as different fruits and vegetables or adjectives such as ‘chop’ and ‘taste’. Or why not be farmers to teach your child about different animals and their sounds? The possibilities are endless when you’re pretending!
- 10. Body Language
When your child is communicating or trying to communicate with you, make sure you give them your full attention. Use warm and friendly body language when speaking with them. Kneeling or bending to their level, retaining eye contact and nodding are all good signals to show your child that you are listening and interested in what they have to say. This will give them the reassurance and comfort of knowing that you are engaged in what they are trying to express. It turn this will make your child a confident and effective communicator!
- 11. Lead by Example
By being a good communicator yourself, you will give the best possible image to your child. Children look up to their parents, carers and family members more than anyone else and often learn by copying from them. If you are not a positive and effective communicator then they could pick up bad habits, words or mannerisms from you. Your child will watch and listen to you very carefully, so make sure you are speaking with others in the same way that you would wish your child to. If they hear and see good manners, confidence and positivity then they will copy it.
There are many different ways to help improve your child’s communication skills, but our top 11 ways are a fantastic starting point! Interacting with other children and people in general is one of the most essential and valuable ways for your child to improve their communication skills.