Communicating with children can be both difficult and frustrating. It can be very challenging to understand what’s going on in their minds or to know how much communication is acceptable before invading their privacy. What’s more, busy modern life makes it hard to find the time to sit down and really develop ways to communicate with children after school and during the weekends. Surf excel’s Kids Today project, which worked closely with children to record their experiences of modern childhood, revealed that often their lives are very different to our own at their age.
Communication and uninterrupted family time is hugely important to a child’s growth, development, and happiness – helping us, as parents, to bridge the gap between our personal experiences and that of our children. It assists kids’ learning, their speech, and even their understanding of important concepts such as culture and acceptance. Communication with children can be made easier, however, through a better understanding of the way kids think; the right methods and techniques can help you encourage the flow of conversation.
Ways of Communicating with Children
Effective communication with children stems from altering typical conversational styles to make the conversation more appealing to children, promoting freedom of expression and playing to their interests. Here are some ways you can encourage your children to open up to you, allowing you to understand them, their interests, and their dreams more thoroughly.
Communicate in English
Learning isn’t always fun for children, but one school subject that most kids enjoy is English. English can be a gateway to great opportunities, such as foreign travel and exciting jobs; so older children in particular are often keen to practice. But it may also allow you to tackle issues they may otherwise be shy to talk about. According to the British Council, young children will often happily talk about their likes and dislikes in English, whereas they may be reluctant to do so in their mother tongue.
This is because some of the first sentences kids learn in English are “I like...”, “I don’t like...”, “I am sad”, or “I am happy” and so on. When learning a new language, it’s easy to start with sentences that relate to the learner. If your own English isn’t perfect, don’t worry – just do your best. It’ll be a great chance for your little one to show off their linguistic talents. Check out our articles about word games and English learning for kids for more inspiration!
Adapt Your Communication Skills as Your Child Grows
One reason that many parents find it difficult to communicate with their children is because kids grow up much faster than we realise! Unicef recommends adapting methods of communication to match different age ranges. For example, very young children may not have the attention span to sit and participate in a lengthy conversation, so keep it short and sweet. You may even find it’s easier to start off by talking to them as they’re playing, promoting the idea of communication for the future. Older kids, however, don’t always respond well to being talked at, rather than to. Instead, ask your kids questions, preferably about a topic they’re interested in. They’ll love sharing their knowledge!
Books, Songs, and Creative Media
Some parents are wary of introducing their children to the television, and rightly so. The Kerala Government has looked into the effects of television on kids, and has cited the unhealthy lifestyles of some American children with prolonged access to a TV as a possible basis for restricting TV viewing. However, limited amounts of creative media can actually be very beneficial to children, as it’s a prime example of how and why communication is important. Importantly, it also creates topics of conversation within the home that relate to everyday life – giving you something to talk about, and a way of opening up even tricky subjects for discussion.
If you’re not keen on the idea of television, reading books or singing songs can have a similar effect. You can chat about what you’ve read together, and engage your child in a conversation about the story – you might find yourself surprised by their insights. Sadly, with modern parents living such busy lives, many of us just don’t know how to communicate with children effectively. It’s vital that we all make some time in our schedules for conversing with our kids – it really is the best way to help us understand more about them!