Talking with Your Child

by Danielle Gallop

We all know that communication is a combination of what you say and how you say it.  Did you know that a good part of communication is your body language too?  As adults we are moving and doing all day every day!  There is always something that needs to be done.  We have long term and short-term goals… ‘honey-do’ lists and more!  I am hoping you all can just take a moment to add something to your list…  communicate with your child. 

We all talk to/with our children.  We just don’t always dedicate time for it or think about its importance.  We talk while we are doing the dishes, driving the car, fixing, changing, working… etc.  Kids know that you care.  They know you love them.  However, in most cases, they don’t feel you listen.  When your boss/spouse sits across the table and reads the paper while discussing everyday matters – you are communicating.  The same conversation without any distractions and total focus on what you are saying is something completely different.

When you stop what you are doing and get down on a child’s level to speak and listen to them, they feel your undivided attention.  That small act allows them time to compose their thoughts, gain confidence, elaborate and enjoy talking with an adult.  It may sound like a small thing.  Trust me – it is time well spent and contributes tremendously in their development.

Click here for more information on how communication with adults strengthens your child’s brain development.

And, when you speak with them, I recommend using ‘grown-up’ words as often as possible.  When your child is small it is adorable when they say ‘wubby’ for their blanket.  That’s sweet!  I get it!!!  You are welcome to call it a wubby too!!!  I am just suggesting looking at other words like ‘baba’ and ‘woof-woof’ and using bottle and dog whenever possible.  It will help them find the right words when they are not with you. 

Additionally, try to incorporate as many descriptive words as possible when speaking with your children and children in general.  When holding up 2 choices (feel free to read my blog on choices), rather than asking ‘would you like this or this?’ indicating the choices, The response to ‘this or this?’ will likely be ‘this’.  Which does not really help anyone and certainly will not help expand your child’s vocabulary.  Believe me – I am talking from personal experience!  Instead ask them if they would like the blue sippy cup or the yellow water bottle. 

It is also important to ask questions that require them to think.  A simple ‘How was your day?’ will elicit the same response as you may provide… ‘it was good’.  However, if you ask, ‘what was the best part of your day?’ or ‘how did you help someone today?’ you will open the conversation up to more thought, detail and excitement.  Try to repeat what your child is saying in adult words.  Don’t correct them, just let them hear you say it correctly.  You can offer additional vocabulary as well.  If they say, ‘the best part was when Johnny and I made a huge-amoungous tower with blocks’ you can say ‘You made a humungous tower?’ How humungous?  While you are acknowledging their words and engaging them, you are gently suggesting the proper word without embarrassment or pointing out their mistake.  They will likely use the right word next time. 

So, in the immortal words of Vanilla Ice… “stop, collaborate and listen”. 

I hope you find time to speak to and listen you kids!  I promise you will be surprised at how much they know and how excited they become when you REALLY engage!