The development of appropriate and strong communication skills spans from infancy to adulthood. Additionally, being a good communicator includes a vast arrays of skills. Often the people who are classified as strong communicators are the people that are not only good at expressing their own thoughts and ideas, but those who are even better at being a good listener. Although developing your own communication skills takes time, there are ways that as parents or caregivers you can help your child on his or her own way to being a strong communicator.
Often, the best way to teach communication is to model what you want your child to be doing. When talking with others demonstrate the skills of a strong communicator.
Ways to Model Communication Skills for Kids:
- Speak slowly and with an appropriate speaking volume.
- Demonstrate how turns are taken within a conversation, rather than speaking at the same time or interrupting others.
- When it is your turn to listen, exhibit active listening skills – make eye contact with the speaker, face your body towards the speaker and respond with the appropriate comment/question.
- Provide opportunities for others to express their own thoughts and ideas. This can be done in both a formal (i.e., at the dinner table) or informally (i.e., during a casual conversation).
If you wish to take on a more direct form of teaching your child strong communication skills, start with the most concrete skills – body language. When a conversation partner demonstrates appropriate body language, he or she is demonstrating that the conversation is important to them and that they are listening. These skills include: eye contact, body orientation (i.e., facing the speaker), and having quiet hands/feet. These skills can be taught through visuals or videos and by displaying these behaviors. Once a child has mastered these basic communication skills, higher level skills can be built off of this foundation.