How To Talk To Your Children

How To Talk To Your Children

Generally, children love their parents, and so do parents. So, why is communication between parents and children sometimes difficult? What can parents do to be able to talk to their children? This parent-focused article is all about the age-appropriate advice with some gentle reminders about what to say and do to make your parent-child communication not only possible but also such a rewarding and enlightening experience.

Getting straight to the point, the most guaranteed way is to be a good communicator as a parent. Learn how to talk to your children according to their age but considering their characters as well. For example, Some children are talkative and others are reserved.

The reserved children need a lot of encouragement and positive feedback to get to talking. So you will need to use different approaches talking to them. But why is communication always a challenging part of the parenting experience? You might find additional causes for difficult communication between parents and their children but here are a few reasons that have been observed.

Why is communication difficult?

Living in a bubble

Each and everyone of us lives life in a bubble universe. Yes, we get so caught up in our own world and most of the time forget that others have different experiences and varying points of reference. As in, if I’m in sales and have been working hard to close a deal, that process becomes my world-the same is true of any other situation. As a result we forget to add context to our communications with others including our own children.


Assumptions are one of the biggest causes of difficult parent-child communication. Oftentimes we think that others know what we are talking about when – consciously or unconsciously – we assume they have the same background and knowledge we do.

And when it comes to communication with your children you can sometimes forget that they are somehow inexperienced at their age and worse still think that they should have the same background as yours,trying to figure out what they think or want to say. Good, you are doing a good job trying to put yourself in their shoes but then you can’t completely get it without heeding all the details. Yes, because your child now lives in a different world as you were raised in. Remember each person’s experience influences their understanding of the world. Basically, saying this to a child “Yes, get on with it, I understand all of that.” is a communication killer. Stop for a while and ask yourself ‘Do I really understand this?’

Parents from Mars and Children from Venus –Think this can be a great metaphor for summarizing differences between parents  and children.

Sometimes the problem is that you Just Don’t Understand. For example, your child can mention a movie that will be shown and you’ll assume that he is just talking or just telling you about it.

However, that’s never the case, maybe he wants to watch it, maybe he doesn’t. Well, you don’t know but you already assumed he doesn’t.  You just think, “that’s nice” and then ignore it. But this works in reverse. Your child has a different context: He means that he’d like to see the movie. If you actually think about it, your child is thinking “why would i mention it unless i wanted to watch it?’’. See? – It’s all because parents and children communicate differently. They don’t mean the same things even when saying the same words.

The quest for independence

In some cases, teenagers want more freedom than they should have; on the other hand, some parents grant less freedom than they could. And the result? The tug-of-war between the two can create considerable turmoil for parents and children making it even harder to communicate.

How to talk to your children according to their age.

Now let’s dive into our interesting part. When speaking to your children you should have their age in mind. For communication strategies vary in age. So how can you talk to your children depending on their age?


You don’t have to wait until your child is a teenager, to focus on your communication- it would make it even harder. Start while they are still young and set the stage for open communication. Keep in mind that the way you communicate with your kid at this very age, will affect their entire life and their communication skills as grown ups.

That early-childhood-effective-communication will make them begin to feel that they are heard and understood by their parents, which is a boost to self-esteem. However, if you go the opposite way, expect to raise a child who believes that they are unimportant, unheard, or misunderstood. It is therefore important for you to start while your kids are still quite young. That’s why this point lies at the top of the list. And it’s actually the foundation of the whole parent-child communication thing.

To be able to communicate with your kid at this age, you will just need to be available and willing to listen. Why so? You can’t predict when your child will start talking about something that seems important to him. And when he has something important to say or has strong feelings or a problem, it’s important for him to feel that you’re there and really listening-Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

And when talking, build on what your child is telling you and show your interest by saying things like ‘Really!’, ‘wow!’, I see, and that’s interesting or repeat back what your child has said. You can also offer encouragement through a smile. This sends him the message that you really understood what he has to say and it’s important to you as well.

Listening isn’t just about hearing words. Watch your child’s facial expressions and body language. Don’t just hear the words but listen and also try to understand what’s behind those words.

Help your child tell their story. Children take so long to get to the point. However, please don’t ever get bored and start texting a friend or checking your phone while he/she is still talking. Just bear with him and ask action questions: “Who was there? What did they say? What happened next?”- show you are interested in the whole story. These help your child feel heard.

Try not to jump in, cut your child off, or put words in his mouth – even when he says something wrong or is having trouble finding the words.

Don’t fake it. It’s good to set aside a time for communication rather than to listen half-heartedly. It is okay to say, “It’s difficult for me to listen to you now that I am making dinner, but I’ll be available in 20 minutes.” Remember, though, that it’s difficult for kids to wait for longer.

Keep conversations brief. Rather than having a one time big talk, talk progressively. It’s even difficult for the younger children to stay focused through long speeches. It might be a good practice to try to speak to your young one for more than 30 seconds and then ask for comment on what was said. The ultimate purpose here is to pass on information a little at a time while checking that your child is paying attention. When talking to him, look for clues that the child has had enough. Look for signs like lack of eye contact, distractibility, etc. And when he has had enough, close the conversation and wait for another appropriate time.

Children have unpleasant feelings like sadness, disappointment, frustration, anger, fear, and anxiety too. Even though they might not have a vocabulary for that, be open to talking about it all, pay attention to their feelings and show them that how they feel matters to you so that they can count on you to do your best to address their needs.


Here comes a classic scenario: You try to ask your child how school was, he just says “fine or you ask what he did during the day, and the answer is, “Nothing.”-Can you relate? The truth is he doesn’t give you such a cold shoulder on purpose. He might just find it overwhelming to sort out the emotions of the day. So, what can you do to be able to talk with your school-aged child without getting any unpleasant single worded answer?

Here’s how to kick-start the conversation to avoid this kind of situation: Don’t start an interrogation as soon as you start talking. Rather start with something like ‘Hey darling, I missed you. I’ll give you something to eat’-Give him a snack and some downtime before you ask about anything. And voila! Now your kid is thinking, my mom/dad has got my back, and that’s when he’ll start to open up. But it doesn’t stop here.

You will need questions too-but effective ones. Ask specific questions – Like ‘Did you play football?’, ‘Who did you play with?’ “Did you sing any songs today?’, ‘What made you feel the happiest while you were at school today?’ or, ‘What do you wish was different?’ With these kinds of questions, you will help him scroll back in time and make stories out of his experiences. You’ll also be giving him a better idea of the kind of things you’re interested in knowing.

You can also know how he is feeling by tuning in to what his body language is telling you and try to respond to non-verbal messages – for example, you could say ‘’You have a bit of a funny face. Did something happen at school?’’

What if you try all this and the conversation still isn’t flowing? Change the subject. Create the conversation around your kid’s favorite movie and try to open up the lines of communication that way. You can also try playing a game or reading together, and see what topics naturally arise. Whatever the tacktick you choose, the goal should be to create that environment where your kid starts to feel like talking.

Don’t ignore or brush off your kid when he’s rattling on about the latest video game or a guest speaker that came into his classroom that day, even if it doesn’t seem important to you. Otherwise you’re missing an opportunity to show you are a good listener.

Watch a favorite TV show together once a week. This lets you share an interest and get some quality time.


This might be the hardest part of your whole parenting experience. Your patience will be tried but don’t panic, you’ll just get through it. Let’s see what you can do to make that conversation possible, positive, and even enjoyable.

Questions are always the best but only when they are used in the best way. When talking about a certain topic, be careful not to confront your adolescent with direct questions about a particular matter. Instead, ask questions that shift the focus away from him. Ask how others view the matter then ask what advice he would give. Such indirect questions are more likely to get your adolescent to open up and express his or her.

Your adolescent may have a particular time during which he is likely to talk openly. Seize that opportunity-Keep an eye on his mood swing and treat him accordingly. And if he seems reluctant to talk, do something together​—take a walk  or perform a chore around the house. Such informal settings help adolescents feel more inclined to open up without him even realizing he is being really open.

What if you don’t share the same point of view on a certain matter? If the difference is only a matter of preference- not an issue of right and wrong, let him win you over-even if you do not fully agree with him.

Take the initiative. Another sure way to get your kid talking is to talk to him. For example, instead of questioning how the day went, share yours. Your conversation shouldn’t feel like a one-sided interrogation anyway.

When expressing his concerns and worries don’t tell him ‘’You don’t really feel that way’’ or “You can’t honestly think that” Let’s say you express your frustration to a close friend, saying you cannot cope with your job. What would you want and expect to hear from him? Point fingers on you showing that the problem is your own fault? Obviously not this. You would rather prefer it if your friend said: “That must have been difficult. You’ve had a hard day. Do this with your child. Show her you value her thoughts and feelings.

Don’t rush into problem-solving. A lot of times, parents want to be the problem solver. On the other hand, at times your teen might just want you to listen, and to feel that her feelings and point of view matter to someone. Rather than rushing into giving suggestions ” Ask questions like, “What do you think your options are?” or “What are you most comfortable doing?”. It’s empowering- a self-confidence booster.

Avoid criticism and blame. Don’t just hear the first sentence and start assuming things or putting the blame on him. In fact, you can help your child only if you understand the whole situation. As loving parents, listen to your children and try to understand them without judgments so that you can say something that really helps them.Don’t overreact or jump to conclusions if your child says something. Instead, be swift about hearing and slow about speaking.

Don’t be a dictator. You still get to set the rules and boundaries for unacceptable behaviors and you can’t by any means let your child be disrespectful but atleast help the child understand the reasons behind your rules. While pushing the boundaries is natural for teenagers, hearing your thoughtful explanation about why certain things aren’t allowed will make the rule seem more reasonable.

What if you try hard to talk to him but it feels like he doesn’t want to talk? Respect his decision to keep some things to himself. Then ask him if he’d like to talk about it later (don’t argue with him if he says no). You can say, I love you and I can see that something has happened but you’re not ready to tell me. When you’re ready, I’m here.’ (Say this with a neutral voice).

There may also be a time when you’ve tried your best to talk and be all nice but then your adolescent-parent conversation becomes an argument. This actually happens as he grows older. This situation can be hard to deal with-we can’t deny. But you can get it settled peacefully than turning your home-ground into a battle-ground. It’s simple. You just do not have to argue to the bitter end. Just make your point and then mute. Believe me when he’s alone he will take time and ponder over what you’ve said.

And here comes another interesting point-Your feelings. Are your feelings affecting the way I respond to my child? Do you yell or sound cross with your child even if he didn’t do anything wrong because you’re tired? In your interactions with your kids, does your voice sound, patient and loving or harsh and angry? What about the tone of voice you use? Maybe you need to soften it when you speak to your child, even if they did wrong. Always make sure your tone and words are more positive because being harsh isn’t effective; it does only harm your relationship.

True, when your kid says or does something that annoys you, you may find it hard to control your emotions. However, it is important to take some time to connect with your own feelings and calm down. You can do this by using deep breathing or self-talk before letting these emotions leak and derail your communication with your kid.

So dear parents, communication is like any other skill – you get better with practice. Do not be discouraged if the parent-child communication in your family is not as good as you would like it to be. If it doesn’t seem to work, it’s not that you are not doing it right. It’s a part of the process. Keep working at it.

Final note:

Above all, keep showing love, your child-parent communication will get better and better-love has power. I know, it may feel awkward at first but with time the awkwardness fades. Just talk about everyday things as you go through your day. Result? You and your child will have lots of communication making it easier to talk whenever big or tricky issues come up.

Watch what you say and how you say it whenever you talk to your child. If you speak kindly and lovingly, the child will open up. If you shout and belittle him or her, the ‘shell’ closes and communication stops.You love your children-I know, and I believe you are going to apply this practical advice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Be the first to comment.