4 Tips for Effective Parent-Child Communication

Parent-Child Communication

Most parents have a common complaint about their children – that they never seem to listen or register what is being said. The open and honest parent-child communication channel is almost non-existent in most families nowadays! Considering the fact that much of the average communication between parent and child centers around instructions of “what to do” – or rather – “what not to do”, is this really very surprising?

We need to get our kids to listen, and the worst way of doing this, is to keep nagging them with the comment, “You never pay attention.” Instead, try communicating using a few tried and tested techniques that are guaranteed to get your children to listen.

When parents communicate openly with their kids and respect their feelings, a stronger bond is built  between them and this makes a parenting job a little easier.

Here are the 4 tips to achieve effective parent-child communication in your family:

1. Set up a Connection First

Many of us make the mistake of addressing a child when he or she is playing, watching television or at the computer. Anytime you need to talk to your child, even before you begin speaking, you ought to ensure your kid is paying attention. Say something like, “I want your eyes on me,” and make sure there is eye contact or say, “I want you to listen to me now,” and do not begin until your child makes eye contact with you.

Anytime there is a break in this – say if the kid goes out of the room, or turns away or begins fiddling with a toy, the television remote control or the mouse – stop speaking and again ask for attention before you continue. This tip comes with a rider, though – it is vital you do the same thing when your kid is speaking something to you; this shows him or her that you respect the communication.

Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children. ~ Charles R. Swindoll (Tweet this)

 2. Say it Quickly and Use Positive Statements

Ever noticed how you hate to listen to people who drag on and on with unnecessary details as they speak? Well, children have an even shorter attention span, and it gets even further reduced when they are listening to something unpleasant. Recognize this, and keep your sentences short, beginning with the most important part first.

Quickly get to the point: “Please play outside while I clean up the hall” is much more effective than, “I don’t understand why you need to play here right now; can’t you see that I’m cleaning up here? You always do this, how many times do I have to keep reminding you to play outside when I’m working here?”

Did you notice the difference between the two ways of communicating? The first makes a simple assertive statement without nagging the child; the second is not just negative, it also does not convey your wish clearly, and can leave your child feeling confused.

 3. Show Empathy

It can be tough being a child and when things go wrong, a child is quite likely to sulk over it or throw a tantrum, or say and behave irrationally. Do not take this personally and respond; in fact, do not respond at all except for a nod of the head, a smile or an expression of understanding such as, “Oh…I see.” Remember that you are the adult and therefore, the responsibility of staying calm rests on you.

If you find this difficult, make up an excuse and leave the room for a few minutes until you cool down and then go back to your child.

 4. Use “I…” Statements

Always begin your sentences with “I want” or “I wish” rather than “You.” Even more importantly, avoid using all those adverbs of frequency that sound so accusing to a child – always and never in combination with “You.” Say “I want you to pick up your books from the floor now,” and not, “You always leave your books on the floor – will you pick them up?”


Developing an effective parent-child communication is very important. In all our anxiety to get things done and have life running smoothly, one of the first casualties is a loving communication with our kids. If only we could sometimes hear ourselves speak to our kids, we would probably cringe to think we said something so rude or so cruel.

Yes, these tips will certainly help you to talk to kids with respect and positive assertion, and you are sure to see an improvement in their ability to listen.


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