– Provide a calm environment without distractions. Communication with your child will be easier if he or she feels that you are paying attention. Also limit double-tasking, such as looking at your phone while your child is talking to you. They need to feel that they have your full attention.
– Choose a time when your child is available. Your child may not want to talk if he or she is engrossed in a TV show or game. It is better to wait for another time to talk to your child. Mealtimes and bedtime routines can be good times to talk, as long as you avoid topics that might upset your child.
– Be brief and clear. Your child will understand the message better if you use a developmentally appropriate level of language. Use simple words and short sentences. Also avoid long monologues. The aim is to have positive discussions.
– Pay attention to non-verbal communication. Your child’s attitude and gestures send you messages that can help you relate to him/her better. For example, averted gazes and a closed position, such as turning your back or lowering your head, can indicate discomfort in your child.
– Use “I” rather than “you”. This will prevent your child from feeling criticised. It also provides a good model for communication that can be copied with other children.
– Be respectful. Avoid blaming or generalising by using words like “always” or “never”. For example, phrases like “you always forget your book at school” or “you’re never happy with dinner” can cause a child to shut down and withhold information from you.
– Be open. If you disagree with your child, let them know that it’s okay not to agree on everything and try to see things from their perspective. Do not be judgmental. However, explain the values that are important in your family and that they should respect. It is important to be open to what your child has to say. This will give them a safe space to learn to talk about their ideas.