My Child
Parenting: Building effective communication with my child

The key to effective communication between you and your child is listening to each other. This may sound simple, but really listening to what someone is trying to say takes a lot of energy. Here are some suggestions:

  • Make the time to have a one-to-one talk; in other words, don't try to talk in the middle of family confusion. Find a time and place where the two of you won't be interrupted.

  • When your child is speaking, don't interrupt. The better you listen, the more likely you are to respond in a way that is helpful.

  • Check with your child to see if you "get it." For example, "I think that you were saying such-and-such. Was that what you meant?" or "I'm confused, because you say you're happy, but you look sad."

  • Keep in mind that even if you do all these things, your child may still not want to talk much. Pressuring children to talk usually makes them clam up even more. Instead of trying to pressure your child to talk to you, it may help for you to talk to her about things that you think she will be interested in. Or sometimes just doing something pleasant together, and enjoying the closeness, may create a good feeling that relaxes your child and makes her open up spontaneously. Many parents find that a drive in the car, just the two of you, magically opens the door to communication. Sometimes the key is to wait until your child initiates the discussion. When this happens, be ready to drop whatever it was you were doing, if possible, and seize the opportunity to listen to what your child has to say.