Set aside time for talking and listening to each other.
Listen to your children when they want to talk, have strong feelings or have a problem.
Be open to talking about all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. Talking about feeling angry is different from getting angry, though. Learning the difference is an important step for a child learning to communicate.
When talking to your child, try to remember how it was when you were a child and how you were generally attracted to those people who really listened to you. After all, children think differently from grown-ups. There are a lot of things they don’t know and a lot of things they don’t have the words to talk about.
Let your child finish talking and then respond. When listening, try not to interrupt or put words in your child’s mouth – even when your child says something ridiculous or wrong or is having trouble finding the words. Children appreciate this as much as grown-ups!
Use language that your children will understand. Sometimes we forget that children don’t “get” everything.
Watch your child’s facial expression and body language. Listening isn’t just about hearing words, but also trying to understand what’s behind those words.
To let your child know you’re listening, and make sure you’ve really understood, repeat back what your child has said and make lots of eye contact.
Show your interest by saying such things as, “Tell me more about …”, “Really!” and “Go on …”. Ask children what they feel about the things they’re telling you about.
Avoid criticism and blame. If you’re angry about something your child has done, try and explain why you don’t want them to do it again. Appeal to their sense of empathy.