Children are not born with communication skills that allow for more in-depth interactions that are common in making friends, relaying personal feelings, or being able to communicate more complex thoughts.
They learn by watching and interacting with the people around them, but often, they miss out on essential communication skills until they are much older.
3 Communication Skills Children Need to Have
Here are a few ways to encourage communication skills for children that will carry them through childhood and beyond.
1. Talk with the Children
As adults, we need to speak with children to teach them how to speak with others. This is possible through teachers, trusted mentors, and of course, parents.
Children that feel as though they cannot communicate effectively with others when it comes to relaying their needs will generally be the more quiet ones.
Adults need to take the initiative to encourage children to engage in conversation. By doing this, children can build their confidence and level of comfort when taking part in conversation.
Parents should chat with their kids when out and about running errands with them. Ask them about their favorite things and let them go.
2. Ask Them to Describe the World Around Them
Encourage your children to describe the world around them. Sometimes that means having them tell you about how their day went.
Other times, it might mean listening to a nonsensical ramble of the latest feature in Minecraft. To help children learn appropriate communication skills, it may mean asking questions, too.
At this point, it becomes your turn to describe your day or something fun you may have experienced. It’s all part of the give and take of communication.
3. Model Communication Skills for Children
It’s important for children to see adults in their lives model appropriate communication. Sometimes, modeling a conversation means showing children that there is a back and forth between two or more people.
Modeling communication is an excellent opportunity to show them what active listening is. As you make eye contact with the person speaking, you need to be listening attentively and asking questions or commenting on things that are relevant to the discussion.
In other words, if you’re stuck listening to stories about the latest Minecraft video on Amazon Prime, it’s a good idea to ask questions about the characters and the storylines. If books are your child’s lifeblood, ask them about the book they’re reading. They will enjoy discussing their favorite parts.
Recognizing and Addressing Delays
Not much makes a child feel more inadequate than not being able to express themselves verbally. Think about that for a second.
Toddlers get especially frustrated because they try to tell you what they want but lack the language capacity to actually tell you in words. Instead, they do a lot of pointing and then get mad when you give them the cookie that was next to the apple slices they really wanted.
Expressive language delays make expressing oneself even more difficult when language skills fall behind those of the child’s peers. Children facing expressive delays may be difficult to understand due to the way they talk. Expressive delays can also be seen alongside an inability to follow more than a couple of instructions at a time.
It’s important to recognize expressive delays for what they are and to have children evaluated promptly. This includes having your child’s hearing tested and then a full evaluation from a speech therapist.
As a parent, you can help your child communicate by dedicating purposeful time with interaction. You’ll want to encourage the initiation of interactions from their side as well as your own.
You’ll also need to understand that communication isn’t just verbal. Instead, communication also comes from sounds, or the way your child might move. Much like the toddler mentioned earlier, as the communication moves forward, it may just as well be limited to pointing.
There are several stages of communication that children go through as they grow. If you’re ever in doubt that your child isn’t reaching necessary milestones, reach out to your pediatrician or a local speech therapist to have your child evaluated.
Remember, addressing the concern sooner than later is better for everyone and offers your child a better chance at improving over time.
Above All, Communication Skills Take Time
Teaching and modeling communication skills for children is going to take time. As they learn how to communicate, they will be able to express themselves to you.
Give them time to flourish and learn what it means to be a good communicator. Someday, they won’t be able to stop!