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Guidelines For Parent/Child Communication


Good communication is an important parenting skill. Parenting can be more enjoyable when a positive parent child relationship is established. Whether you are parenting a toddler or a teenager, good communication is the key to building self-esteem as well a mutual respect.


Some Basic Tips For Good Parent/Child Communication


  • Let the child know that you are interested and involved and that you will help when needed.

  • Turn off the television or put the newspaper down when your child wants to converse.

  • Avoid taking a telephone call when the child has something important to tell you.

  • Unless other people are specifically meant to be included, hold conversations in privacy. The best communication between you and the child will occur when others are not around.

  • Embarrassing the child or putting him on the spot in front of others will lead only to resentment and hostility, not good communication.

  • Don’t tower over your child. Get down to the child’s level, then talk.

  • If you are very angry about a behaviour or an incident, don’t attempt communication until you regain your cool, because you cannot be objective until then. It is better to settle down, and talk to the child later.

  • If you are very tired, you will have to make an extra effort to be an active listener. Genuine active listening is hard work and is very difficult when your mind and body are already tired.

  • Listen carefully and politely. Don’t interrupt the child when he is trying to tell his story. Be as courteous to your child as you would be to an adult.

  • Don’t be a wipe-out artist, unraveling minor threads of a story and never allowing the child’s own theme to develop. This is the parent who reacts to the incidentals of a message while the main idea is list: i.e., the child starts to tell about what happened and the parent says, “I don’t care what they are doing, but you had better not be involved in anything like that.”

  • Don’t ask why, but do ask what happened.

  • If you have knowledge of the situation, confront the child with the information that you know or have been told.

  • Keep adult talking (“You’ll talk when I’m finished.” “I know what’s best for you.” “Just do what I say and that will solve the problem”), preaching and moralizing to a minimum because they are not helpful in getting communication open and keeping it open.

  • Don’t use put-down words or statements: dumb, stupid, lazy: “Stupid, that makes no sense at all” or “What do you know, you’re just a child.”

  • Assist the child in planning some specific steps to the solution.

  • Show that you accept the child himself, regardless of what he has or has not done.

  • Reinforce the child for keeping communication open. Do this by accepting him and praising his efforts to communicate.


Words of Encouragement and Praise


Children thrive on positive attention. Children need to feel loved and appreciated. Most parents find that it is easier to provide negative feedback rather than positive feedback.


By selecting and using some of the phrases below on a daily basis with your child, you will find that he will start paying more attention to you and will try harder to please.


Yes    Good    Fine    Very good    Very fine    Excellent    Marvelous  


That’s right    Correct    Wonderful    I like the way you do that    I’m pleased with (proud of ) you


That’s good    Wow    Oh boy   Very nice    Good work    Great going    Good for you    That’s the way


Much better       O.K.    You’re doing better    That’s perfect Good idea    What a cleaver idea


I noticed that you ____      Keep it up    I had fun ______ with you


You are improving at ______ more and more    You showed a lot of responsibility when you ______


Way to go    I appreciate the way you ______    You are great at that    You’re the best


I like the way you ______ with out having to be asked (reminded)


I’m sure glad you are my son/daughter    Now you’ve got it    I love you


Signal or gesture to signify approval    High five    Touch cheek   Tickle    Laugh (with, not at)    Pat on the back    Hug

The way we talk to and act with children influences how they feel about themselves. Our behaviour often speaks louder than words. What are you saying to your child?


The things we say to children act like a mirror, reflecting back to children ideas about who they are and what they will become.


Hurtful words can last a lifetime. As a parent you may sometimes do or say things to your child that goes against your better judgement.


Generally, children are strong enough that an occasional hurtful or negative comment may not have a lasting impact. However, the more often we communicate negative messages to children through our words and actions, the more they will come to believe them.

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