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How to Communicate with Children

author image Denise Stern
Denise Stern is an experienced freelance writer and editor. She has written professionally for more than seven years. Stern regularly provides content for health-related and elder-care websites and has an associate and specialized business degree in health information management and technology.
How to Communicate with Children
Two men and a boy conversing at a picnic in the park. Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images


Children need to learn and understand basic communication skills to get through life. Children who learn listening, speaking and writing skills earlier may have more success at understanding what is expected of them and expressing themselves in healthy, productive ways, states the University of Delaware. Interaction between peers and adults is important in developing avenues of communication and teaching children how to relate their feelings, question and learn in a variety of environments and scenarios.

Ears Open

Listening is a skill for children and adults. Listening to children helps them learn how to express their feelings, concerns and ideas. One of the best methods to teach children to listen to the ideas, feelings or requests of others is to listen to theirs as well. This balance encourages children to maintain interest and curiosity in the world around them and with their peers and adults at the same time, suggests Focus Adolescent Services.

Encourage Verbal Communication

Encouraging children, regardless of age, to express themselves means teaching them the difference between appropriate and inappropriate verbalization. Encouraging children to talk means asking them to share ideas while actively listening to what they have to say, says Focus Adolescent Services. Maintain eye contact, turn off the television and put down the newspaper or magazine when a child is speaking to reinforce that what he has to say is important to you and also teaches him courteous behavior toward others when they're speaking.

No Interruptions

Children, regardless of age, may not always express themselves quickly or clearly. If a child experiences difficulty explaining something, gently encourage her to continue, suggests the University of Delaware. Don't grow impatient with a child who seems to be talking in circles, but gently guide her to be more precise or try to explain in greater detail what she means or is trying to express.

Read the Signs

Pay attention to visual cues that help you understand how a child might be feeling, even if he's expressing himself clearly. Also be aware of your own visual cues. Guard against displaying anger or impatience with your facial expressions or stance when communicating with a recalcitrant or angry child. Maintain eye contact and encourage the child to express what she's feeling and why.

Encourage Questions

Resist the temptation to ask a child a yes or no question if you're trying to get him to communicate with you, as these just lead to dead ends, states Focus Adolescent Services. Ask the child to share his feelings or ideas and share your own with him as well. Encourage polite discussions and dialogue.

Know When to Stop

Don't expect a 6-year-old, or even a 17-year-old, to be able to communicate everything. Respect privacy, but do let your child know you're always available to listen when she is ready to talk. Fidgeting, staring, distraction and pure stubbornness are indications that your child is not willing to share or express herself at the moment. Respect those feelings and let it go. Try again later.

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