Five Simple Communication Tips for Parents

5 Communication Tips for Parents | Strong Communication With Your Child | Parenting Tips | Preteen #communication

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When we first mention Communication Tips for Parents, I know what some parents are thinking right now: “I don’t need to improve communication with my child – my kid says plenty of words to me. I need to know how to get them to stop screaming at me through the bathroom door!”

I get it. It happens to me every day.

No matter how many times I yell back, “Is someone or something on fire?” they keep doing it, right?

5 Communication Tips for Parents | Strong Communication With Your Child | Parenting Tips | Preteen #communication

5 Communication Tips for Parents | Strong Communication With Your Child | Parenting Middle School #parentingtips

When our kids are young, we hear a lot of words. Tons. From all the kids. At the same time.

But as they get older, those words slow down. Thoughts tend to stay inside their head and words don’t pour out from their brain to their mouth quite as much.

It’s not that preteens and teenagers have fewer things to say – it’s that they’re not saying them. Or, they’re saying them to someone else and not us.

Communication is one of our family values and a big part of our family culture.

Part of being an intentional parent means we need to see what’s coming up in our child’s life and prepare for them. We want to be proactive, not reactive.

Related Post: Creating Your Own Family Culture | A Step by Step Guide

We’ve created a Step by Step Guide to help you be more intentional as a parent. This guide helps you determine what values, character traits, skills, and experiences you want for your child, and shows you how to develop a strategy to make it happen. The guide also encourages you decide what important conversations you need to have with your child, so you can anticipate their needs and prepare for them.

 

As our kids grow, they start keeping their thoughts inside more and more. We know that, so we started preparing for it since our kids were small.

These communication tips for parents are simple. You may even read them and say, “Well, duh.”

Something can be simple and still be very effective. When these become habits – daily habits – in our families, communication increases.

We’d rather have too many words when they’re young, than too few words when they’re older.

We’d rather have too many words when they’re young, than too few words when they’re older.

If communication with our child is strong early on, we increase the likelihood of communication being strong as they head into the teenage years.

Here are 5 simple communication tips for parents:

Play “Questions”

I want to apologize for the most basic name ever for this activity. It’s so simple and we’ve been doing it with each of our kids since they were a toddler. But, it’s one of the best communication tips for parents to use, even with a boring name!

We say to our child (preferably one-on-one), “Let’s play Questions. Do you want to go first?” And we take turns asking each other questions, back and forth.

That’s it. Revolutionary, right? 😀

Sometimes we ask things like, “What’s your favorite planet and why?” or, “Would you rather live on a mountain or by the ocean?”

In every game, we try to sneak in one real question like, “What makes you most nervous about overnight camp?” or “Are there any friendships that you feel are changing right now?”

We play Questions often at random times, but sometimes we play Questions when there’s something specific we want to bring up with a child. In those situations, Questions shifts to a real conversation and time to connect.

Communication Tips for Parents | Connect With Your Child | Intentional Parenting | Listening Skills #intentionalparentingTurn Off the Music in the Car

Driving in the car is what we affectionately refer to as, “forced community.” We have to be together, so it’s the perfect opportunity for communication with your child!

If we’re not completely engrossed in an audiobook, we very rarely have music or anything else playing in the car. We also don’t do movies or tablet in the car.

This is a deliberate choice because when the background noise is gone, it creates space for conversation.

We talk about everything in the car: school, faith, friends, and lots of randomness. Whenever we’re leaving a family fun day, we take turns sharing our favorite thing from the event.

Honestly, some of our best conversations happen in the car. It is possible to turn drive time into intentional time with your child.

Unplug Together

We are dealing with parenting challenges that our own parents never dreamed of. Technology addiction is a real struggle for many families – both kids and parents.

When our son was about 2 1/2 years old, I was working on the computer and he came up to try and tell me something. I was saying all the appropriate “Oh, wows” and “Uh-huhs” as I half-listened and kept working.

Finally, he reached up, grabbed both sides of my face, turned my head and said, “Mom, look at my eyes.”

“Mom, look at my eyes.”

A deep conviction washed over me and I shut my computer, turned toward him, and gave him my full attention.

He’s older now but still, when he comes up to speak to me, I hear a little voice in my head saying, “Mom, look at my eyes.”

Kids need to be acknowledged and seen, and that’s really hard to do with a screen separating you from each other.

Let’s take nights off from phones & computers – both us and our kids. Create screen-free parts of your home.

Look each other in the eyes.

Listen to Them (For Real)

Have you ever been speaking with someone that you knew wasn’t actually listening to you? Or, they were just waiting so they could get their chance to talk?

How important did you feel?

Practicing effective listening skills will improve communication with your child. Kids know whether you’re engaged based on eye contact, body language, facial expressions.

This is often the hardest communication tip for parents because listening means understanding. It doesn’t mean responding.

We need to listen in order to understand, not listen in order to respond.

That’s hard for parents because we’re used to being the source of our child’s answers. We’re used to telling them what they should do – and sometimes that’s necessary.

However, sometimes kids just need to be heard and understood. They won’t always want our advice but they will always want our empathy.

They won’t always want our advice but they will always want our empathy.

Enter Their World

Our oldest son is what we call, “a hobbyist.” He gets really interested in something and it’s all he wants to talk about and do. He doesn’t quit and move onto something else – he just keeps adding hobbies!

It started with baseball and then it moved to chess. Throw in a few more, and now he’s fascinated by folding origami and paper airplanes.

Paper is everywhere, he cleans it up, and the cycle repeats multiple times a day. To be honest, it’s driving me a little crazy.

When I was at a used book sale last week, do you know what I found and bought for him (while slightly cringing)? A huge book about folding paper airplanes. As much as I didn’t want more folded paper laying around the house, I knew it would be special for him.

We sat down one afternoon and folded airplanes together. We took them out on the driveway and had a contest to see which planes went the farthest. He’s taught me about mountain, valley, and squash folds.

Why? Because I love my son and he likes folding paper. So, now I like folding paper.

Let them teach you what they know. It shows them they have something valuable to contribute to the relationship.

When we enter their world, we’re telling them that they are important to us. We see their strengths and passions, their skills and their hearts.

Communication Tips for Parents | Communication With Your Child | Communication Skills | Kids and Family #parentingresources

Kids are perceptive. They are going to notice you taking small steps to connect with them. When you develop these habits every day, they’re going to realize you want a real relationship with them.

What tips do you have for good communication with your child? Let us know in the comments!

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