We communicate with our children all day long. Much of the time, the way in which kids learn to communicate develops from interactions and experiences in the home. Communication may be verbal or non-verbal, meaning we are modeling communication to our kids whether we realize it or not. Here are some tips for how to make sure you are teaching healthy communication:
- Start with yourself . Your kids are always watching, for better or for worse, which gives you a wonderful opportunity to model healthy communication. Show them how to manage conflicts compassionately. Be mindful of your tone of voice. Apologize and forgive. Show love even in tough moments.
- Apologize to them. When you mess up with your kids (and we all do), apologize! You are not always right just because you are the parent. Show them what it looks like to accept your mistake and own up to it. This teaches them to take ownership of their actions and learn how to ask for forgiveness.
- Listen to them. Little minds have many questions. It can be hard to keep up with the chatter some days, but it is so important to make time to listen to your little ones. They need to experience what it feels like to feel heard. Make time for undivided attention where you can model active listening. Make eye contact, nod as they speak, and ask follow-up questions.
- Speak encouraging words. Be quick to encourage your kids. Be specific in your encouragement and appreciation. See here for more on how to encourage effectively.
- Soften your reactions. How many times do we forget what someone said to us, but we remember how they made us feel? Remember this when speaking to your kids. Keep a calm, stable tone of voice. Anger and defensiveness get in the way of listening. Even when you’re upset with your kids, show them respect and active listening. How you say it is often more important that what you say.
Remember communication is a two-way street. Show respect and be open to listening to your child. Modeling is a powerful tool. Practicing healthy communication at home allows children to thrive in other social settings. One of the best gifts you can give them is this skill set to succeed in all of their future relationships. If you would like help with parenting support, please schedule here: