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effective communication with children

-By Robyn Da Silva

Nominated Supervisor and Educational Leader – Skippy’s Early Learning Centre, Gracemere

“The ability to communicate and listen to instructions for children of pre-school age can at times be frustrating. Either an adult can not understand what the child is saying, or the child does not know or can not use words to share what they mean.” says Robyn Da Silva, our Nominated Supervisor at our Gracemere centre.

During these years, a preschool child has enough vocabulary to engage in simple conversations and share how they feel. To grow and develop skills, children need safety, security, and strong relationships.

Robyn mentioned that you can develop and encourage good communication with even your baby from birth by talking to your newborn and leaving pauses as though you were having a conversation. When your baby starts making noises and babbling, babble back, wait and see whether you get a response.

Robyn further shared the following great ideas to encourage positive communication with children.

  • Listen to understand rather than listen to respond.

  • Use your body language to show that you are listening (Make eye contact and face your child)

  • Bend to their level (Bend so that you are at their eye level) This proactively shows you are listening to what they are saying and paying attention.

  • Build on what your child is telling you and show interest (use things like “Tell me more about” or “really!”)

  • Acknowledge their feelings (Don’t dismiss what they share by saying “stop crying”, or “You’re being silly”. This can make the child feel invalidated, keep the lines of communication open by offering empathy.)

  • Repeat or rephrase what your child has said from time to time. This lets your child know you’re listening and helps you check what your child is saying. Paying attention to no jump in or cut your child off.

  • Be Clear when talking to children (clear with instructions and confident when delivering them) If a child can sense a lack of confidence in the way you speak, they will often do the opposite of what has been asked.

  • Try to see the situation through your child’s eyes. Try to step into your child’s frame of reference before reacting. We often expect our children to understand adult-like ways of thinking and we don’t give consideration to how they might be thinking or viewing the situation.

“The way you speak to children not only reflects your character, but also leads by example.” reminds Robyn Da Silva, our Nominated Supervisor at our centre in Gracemere, Central Queensland.

Be a good role model. Your child learns how to communicate by watching you carefully. When you talk with your child (and others) in a respectful way, this gives a powerful message about positive communication.

Children will imitate the behaviour they see. Be assertive when communicating, so your child can learn to be assertive when communicating with others. And remember, be willing to stop what you are doing to listen to your child. Active listening is key to good communication and great for your relationship. Because listening shows your child that you care and are interested in them.

At Skippy’s Early Learning Centres, we pride ourselves on maintaining respectful and positive communication with children at all times.


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