With the amount of time you spend communicating, it is tempting to believe you are a master communicator by now. However ,communicating properly requires more than just conversing. For communication to be effective, certain communication skills should be developed. The earlier those needed communication skills are developed and honed, the better.
That’s the rationale why communication skills should be polished as soon as children start talking. If you are a parent looking for effective ways to significantly improve the communication skills of your children, you have come to the right place. Below are some of the key things to remember when helping your child navigate the exciting and sometimes confusing world of communication:
Avoid overcorrecting your child
Contrary to popular belief, overcorrecting will not help improve your child’s communication skills. On the contrary, it will do the exact opposite. The more you demand they say or pronounce something correctly, the worse it can likely get. You might only make talking seem like a negative thing and your child might just stop doing it altogether.
Treat your child as an able communication partner
This can be a challenging thing to do—talking to children like you would to adults yet remembering that they are still children. Fortunately, while difficult, this can be done. Talking to children like an adult does not mean you’ll only use adult vocabulary, information, or jokes they might not understand yet. Talking to children like an adult means not interrupting them, using eye contact, and respecting what they say.
If you are talking to younger children, there will be instances when you’ll find it very difficult to understand what they’re saying especially if they can’t pronounce words properly yet. However, you still need to wait for your turn to speak and reply to them accordingly. If you are not sure what they are talking about, you can ask them again.
Limit their time watching TV
Life can get hectic, there are a lot of child-friendly shows on TV, and you can use some much-needed break. Sure, letting your child watch TV while you attend to other things or take some break might sound like a harmless thing. However, you should consider it ideal to limit your child’s exposure to television.
The less time children spend watching TV, the more time they are able to spend on other worthwhile pursuits that can help expand their imagination. Time spent away from television can also be used as the ideal time to play with their peers or on their own. Consequently, less television time can also help them strengthen their language skills.
Encourage them to read
Ideally, reading should not be limited to books alone. You can help improve their communication skills by encouraging your child to read people’s shirts, signs on the streets, information at the back of their favorite cereals, etc. The more exposure they have to language structure and speech sounds, the more they can hone their communication skills.
Also, when reading books, you don’t have to read them word for word. A better technique would be to look at pictures and discussing what you see. For instance, if you are reading Cinderella, you can say, “Oh, no, she lost her shoe,” or “Look, those mice turned to horses!” etc.
This kind of strategy accomplishes two things:
1. It encourages them to use their imagination.
2. It helps build and strengthen their expressive and receptive language skills.
Ask open-ended questions
Fight the urge to bombard children with so many questions thinking it can help build their language skills. Remember, you are a conversation partner and not a tester. Instead of bombarding children with questions, ask smart and open-ended questions instead.
Open-ended questions are those that can be answered by a variety of things instead of the typical “yes” or “no” response. Open-ended questions will help your child think “hard” and learn how to reason for themselves. Below are some examples of open-ended questions:
Question: Did you go to the room?
Open-ended question: Where did you go?
Follow up question: What did you see there?
Question: Did you like the book you read?
Open-ended question: What did you like about the book you read?
Follow up question: What is your favorite part of the story?