In each child’s life it is very important to feel understood, accepted and respected in a relationship with a parent or guardian. The role of a parent is to meet these needs. Proper communication is one of the most important elements in the process of building deep and lasting bonds between a child and a parent. Additionally, it has a key impact on the style and type of any other relationship of a child in the future. Therefore, we should take a closer look at everyday conversations with our children.

Here’s some advice that will help you improve communication with your child:

1. Ask your child open questions

Ask your child such questions so that he/she has a chance to express himself/herself. In such a way you lead to further conversation and not cut the dialogue. Questions requiring answers “yes” or “no” do not give your child such opportunity and do not give you a chance for a deeper conversation. You should encourage your child to describe something or to express his/her opinion rather than summarize your assumptions in one word and cut the dialogue.

2. Empathize with your child’s emotions

One of the most important features of good communication is an ability to put you in another person’s place and an attempt to understand their feelings. If your child is unable to describe particular experiences that he/she goes through and you see that your child is experiencing great emotions, try to name what you see: “It seems to me that you are angry, frustrated, sad…” In this way, you help your child find a proper description of his/her experiences, and thus you bring him/her a relief and reduce tension.

3. Use the language of emotions

Don’t be shy to speak and express your own experiences. This will make the conversation more emotional and personal. Talk to your child about your experiences and ask him//her about his/her own. Try to use words that specify your emotions in the context of specific situations. This way your child will spontaneously learn to name and describe even very complicated emotions.

 4. Try to maintain conversation

Try to pick something from what your child is saying, refer to this, answer by asking your child questions, paraphrase his/her statements.  All these aspects will support your child’s belief in their own communicative skills, besides, there is a great chance that your child might feel listened to and heard in such conversation. Do not use complicated words and language. Do not try to make a long speech in the form of a monologue. It does not encourage your child to share his/her own experiences, and may result in his/her withdrawal from discussion.

5. You should know when to finish conversation3. Use the language of emotions

Watch your child during conversation. When you notice that your child is not looking you in the eye, is answering mindlessly or constantly asking you to repeat what you just said, it may be better to have this conversation later. A conversation is pointless if it does not engage both sides.

Zofia Piersa-Poddębniak

psychologist, psychotherapist

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