The Importance of Communicating with Kids
Children are a gift of the Lord and in a way, they are part of how we make a lasting impression on future generations. In order for our children to be God-loving, brother-loving, right-living, responsible adults in society, it is our job as parents to teach them how to live well.
We teach them much through communication. But often, as parents, our talk with our kids is mostly a one-sided conversation. Here is why 2-way communication is better:
- Less chance of bad behavior
- You know what your child is thinking
- You know what your child is doing
- You can influence your child
- You teach them healthy emotional behavior, self control and right responses
Kids are people too, equally as important to God as any adult, and when we treat them as such, they gain a positive sense of who they are and also respect for what we have to teach them.
How many times in the last week have you actually talked to your child besides giving them instructions?
If you can't answer that question or the number is low, you may need to evaluate your goals and strategies when it comes to communicating with your child.
Here are twenty ways to better communicate with your child:
1. Listen to them when they talk and actively hear what they have to say, the message as well as the words.
2. Ask about their day at school (sports practice, or other activity). When they get in the car, ask what they did, how they felt and what is going on in their life.
3. Share a family meal. Many families eat dinner together as a way of catching up on each other's lives. We generally eat our large meal at lunch, spending time together listening to and talking with our kids. This is often our family devotion time as well.
4. Make time for family time. Have a family game night, a family outing day once a month, or just a set aside time when you discuss current events and what is happening in the family. Yucky weather and can't get out? Check out this list of indoor fun activities you can do together.
5. Maintain eye contact when you are talking to them. This lets them know that nothing else is holding your attention but what they have to say. I will often put down the book or close the computer and look them in the eye as they talk to me, so that they know I am listening, and I can concentrate on them undistracted.
6. Ask follow-up questions. If they give you a one-word answer to your first question, ask another. Ask them how it made them feel. Ask them what they thought or are thinking now. Helping them learn to express their thoughts and feelings will help you know their heart better too.
7. Show respect. Speak to them with respect no matter what their age. Knock before entering their room even if the rule is no locked doors. Don't use their things without permission, just as you expect them to do with your things.
8. Read body language. Your child may say they are fine but their mannerisms may suggest otherwise. Be discerning.
9. Tell them you love them. You can NEVER say it enough when you mean it. But you must show it too in your tone of voice, expression and actions.
10. Encourage them to talk. Children have opinions, too. Listen to them. Engage them in conversation.
11. Be honest with your kids. Kids have a heightened sense of injustice, and can catch you in a lie. Avoid hypocrisy. Don't say you will do something if you cannot or will not follow through.
12. Talk about when you were a kid. Kids want to know they are not alone. My kids LOVE to hear stories of when I was child, or stories my parents told me of when they were children.
13. Accept their right to their emotions. Let them express their emotions in a healthy way. Teach them how to do it in a healthy way.
14. Encourage their interests. Everyone is good at SOMETHING. Find your child's strength and encourage them to develop it.
15. Act like a kid. Live a day in their shoes. Grown ups, don't have to be serious all the time. Take time to play, be silly and enjoy the small things.
16. Support them. Does your child have a big dream? Be their cheerleader. Are they struggling? Be their encourager. Pray for them and speak words of grace and encouragement into their life. I love this resource by Michael & Carlie Kercheval:
17. Share their interests. Be interested in the things they are. Help them investigate to find the answers to their curiosities.
18. Let them help cook dinner. SO many good memories and conversations are made in the kitchen. Don't overlook this opportunity for “talk time”.
19. Avoid saying hurtful things to them. Studies have said it takes 4 positive comments to reverse the effects of every negative one in the home. Your words are powerful! Don't use them for harm!
20. Touch them. Give hugs, kisses and pats on the back, touch their arm when you speak to them. Especially if your child tends to show love in this way. Appropriate physical touch can break down the barriers and enhance communication.
Some of the best conversations I've ever had have been with my children. Talk to them! Share your heart with them, and allow them share theirs with you!
Need more parenting tips? Check out our list of recommended book for parents HERE.