Do you feel like almost everything you say to your kids goes in one ear and out the other?
This is a problem that almost every parent has at some point in time.
Whether your kids are still young or have hit their teenage years, getting them to listen to you can be one of the most challenging things you ever do as a parent.
Knowing how to talk so kids will listen is a skill that you’ll need to work at if you want to establish good communication with your kids. Talking to children isn’t the same as talking to adults, so you’ll have to put some effort into learning how to do it effectively.
Take a look at 12 simple tips below that will show you how to talk to your children so that they’ll listen to what you have to say and be influenced by it.
1. Speak to Kids From a Young Age
The average toddler knows approximately 20 to 50 words by the time they turn 18 months old. And by the time they hit the age of 2? They can talk using anywhere from 200 to 300 words.
It might be difficult to conduct full-on conversations with children at that point. But you shouldn’t let that stop you from trying!
Young children usually love to talk (and talk and talk!), so you should use that to your advantage and start speaking to them as often as you can from a young age.
This will allow you and your child to build up a healthy rapport. It’ll also give you a chance to start teaching your child new words and mannerisms and provide you with an opportunity to really set the tone for your communication moving forward.
2. Address Children by Name
Any good career coach will tell you that it’s a good idea to address people by their names when you’re doing business with them.
It’s a sign of respect, and it’s a great way to get and keep someone’s attention.
It’s also a great way to get and keep a child’s attention when you’re speaking to them. By using their name prior to saying whatever it is you have to say, you’ll subconsciously let them know that they need to perk up and listen to you.
3. Establish Eye Contact With Kids
As your kids grow up, one of the things you’re going to want to teach them with regards to communicating with others is how to look people in the eye when speaking to them. Eye contact is a very important aspect of good communication.
To do this, you yourself should work to establish eye contact with your kids while you’re talking to them. It will show your kids that you’re not distracted when you’re speaking with them, and it’ll force them to work on maintaining eye contact.
4. Stay Positive
As a parent, you’re going to find yourself saying “no” to a lot of things. You’re going to have to get used to using sentences like:
- “No, you may not have candy before dinner”
- “No, you cannot get a puppy”
- “No, you aren’t allowed to stay up five minutes past bedtime”
Saying no comes with the territory when you’re a parent, and it’s actually good for your kids to hear the word “no” when they make outlandish requests.
But “no” also shouldn’t be in every single sentence that you say to your kids! If it is, you’re going to be setting a pretty negative tone for most of your conversations with your children.
While there’s nothing wrong with saying “no” when it’s necessary, you should try to keep your convos with kids as positive as they can be for the most part.
Otherwise, your kids are going to get nothing but negative vibes when they talk to you. It won’t be long before they limit their communication with you or even stop talking to you altogether once they become teens.
5. Try Not to Nag
In addition to trying to keep things positive between you and your kids when you communicate, you should also avoid nagging your kids all the time.
A little bit of nagging might go a long way when you’re trying to get them to clean their rooms or put their bikes away in the garage. But if the only thing you do is nag your kids, they’re going to start to tune you out over time.
6. Practice What You Preach
“Do as I say, not as I do” is a phrase that some parents try to pull out on their kids when the kids call them out for saying one thing and doing another.
For example, some kids will get confused when a parent tells them not to eat junk food before dinner but then eats junk food before dinner themselves.
If you want your kids to buy into the things that you tell them, make sure you’re doing the things that you tell them to do.
Otherwise, you’re going to be sending conflicting messages to your kids and making it tough for them to figure out whether they should do what you say or do what they see you do.
7. Make Sure Kids Understand You
When you’re talking to your kids, you might think that everything you’re saying is crystal-clear. After all, it makes sense to you, so it should make sense to them, too, right?
But even if your kids are looking right at you while you talk and nodding along as if they comprehend everything you’re saying, there’s a chance they might not understand your words fully.
So don’t be afraid to double-check with them at the end of a talk to make sure they know exactly what you meant.
It never hurts to ask, “Do you have any questions?”, after speaking with a child for a few minutes. It’ll give them a chance to bring up anything that may have confused them and allow you to connect better with your words.
8. Allow Children to Speak
One of the biggest mistakes parents make when they’re communicating with their kids is not allowing kids to speak during a conversation. Far too often, talks between parents and kids turn into one-sided conversations with only the parents talking.
There are times when this is perfectly OK.
If, for example, you’re in the middle of disciplining your child, you shouldn’t worry too much about dominating the majority of the conversation. In that instance, your child may have lost their right to talk.
But if you’re having a regular conversation, allow and even encourage your child to speak up.
It’ll make them feel like their thoughts and opinions really matter and break things up so that they can work on both talking and listening while communicating with you.
9. Ask Open-Ended Questions
While most kids have absolutely no problem holding up their end of a conversation, there are some who shy away from communicating with their parents. Older kids, in particular, are known to provide little more than one-word responses when talking with adults.
If your child has started to do this, you can rope them back into conversations by asking open-ended questions that will force them to open up to you. Instead of asking questions that can be answered with simple “yes” and “no” answers, ask questions that they’ll have to answer with longer explanations.
For instance, you can try asking questions like:
- “What was the funniest thing that happened at school today?” (instead of “How was your day at school?”)
- “What did you think was going to happen at the end of the movie?” (instead of “Did you like the movie?”)
- “What were you feeling when you were out on the court at the end of the basketball game?” (instead of “How did your game go?”)
These kinds of questions will push your kids to find new ways to use their words.
It’ll also show them that you truly care about how their day was, whether or not they liked a movie, or how their most recent game went.
10. Give Kids Your Undivided Attention
Are you the type of person who is always checking your smartphone?
This has, unfortunately, become a problem that has plagued communication among all Americans. The average person checks their phone about 80 times every day, and it can really take a toll on those trying to engage in conversations with others.
It can be especially harmful when it comes to communicating with your kids. If you’re not giving them your undivided attention and listening to them when they’re talking, they’re going to grow up thinking that doing that is an acceptable way to communicate.
Set a better example by putting your phone away when you’re speaking with your kids. It’ll be more beneficial for both of you.
11. Take Feedback
Kids are usually quick to let their parents know about any issues they have while communicating with them. They’ll say things like:
- “You never let me talk!”
- “You’re always yelling at me!”
- “You don’t pay enough attention to me when I’m talking to you!”
You don’t necessarily need to take every single piece of feedback your child gives you. But you should listen to some of it and see if what they’re saying is true. If it is, it might help you to learn how to talk so kids will listen.
12. Encourage Kids to Communicate With Others
Listening is a skill that kids need to develop over time. One good way to turn your kids into good listeners is by encouraging them to communicate with others.
Sign young kids up for preschool or take them to places like the Children Ministry At New City Church Orlando so they get familiar with communicating with other kids their age. They’ll learn how to listen better–both to other people and, maybe more importantly, to you–when you send them out into the world and make them communicate more.
Learning How to Talk So Kids Will Listen
Kids will be kids, which means that they’re not always going to listen to what you have to say as a parent. You just have to accept that there will be times when they tune you out.
But as long as you use at least a few of the tips listed here, you’ll learn how to talk so kids will listen more often. You’ll enjoy better communication with your kids and find that you’re able to influence them more when you make communicating properly with them a priority.
Your entire family will also be happier when you all make a more concerted effort to practice good communication. Read our blog for more tips on improving your family life.