Tips for communicating with young children

Tips for communicating with young children

Learning how to communicate with your child at different ages is a great joy—and challenge—of parenting. While it’s important to keep in mind that every child is unique, these general tips can help you communicate with your little one as they grow and develop.

Communicating with babies

Babies often try to tell us something, even though they don’t yet have the words to do so. Try reading their body language and cues to understand their needs and wants. For example, crying is often a baby’s way of expressing hunger, pain, tiredness or discomfort. If you can’t figure out what your baby wants, try offering a few options (like food, a nap or a nappy change) until one hits the mark.

In addition, babies are wonderful body language readers! Using the right expressions and hand gestures can help them understand you.

Keep in mind that it is important to talk to your baby often, even if they can’t yet understand you. Research shows that babies who are frequently spoken to have better language skills when they start school. So tell your little one all about your day—they may not understand the words, but they’ll love hearing your voice!

Communicating with toddlers

We’ve all heard the term “terrible twos.” Toddlers of this age begin learning to use language but rarely have the vocabulary or ability to express themselves fully. This can lead to frustration and, in turn, to tantrums that parents might find hard to deal with.

To combat this, avoid using big words or long sentences when speaking to your child. Instead, stick to short, simple sentences. Toddlers also have short attention spans, so it’s important to repeat yourself often when talking to them. If your child doesn’t seem to understand an explanation, try using different words. Facial expressions and body language can also help toddlers understand what you’re trying to say, even if they don’t fully understand the words being spoken.

Finally, be patient when communicating with your toddler, keeping in mind that they may not always respond the way you want them to. Give them time to process what you’re saying before they attempt to respond.

Communicating with kindergarten-aged children

Children of preschool age begin to understand and use more complex language, but they may not be as fluent as adults in expressing themselves. Therefore, it is important to be patient and give them time to finish their thoughts. You can also facilitate your child’s communication by asking open-ended questions that encourage them to elaborate, such as, “What happened at kindergarten today?” or “What was the best part of your day?”

Try to use simple, clear language, and avoid giving too many instructions at once. Instead, focus on one thing at a time, and give your child the time to process what you’ve said before moving on. For example, if you want your child to brush their teeth after putting on their coat, say, “First, let’s get your coat on. Then, you can brush your teeth.”

Finally, listen carefully to what your child says. Pay attention not only to their words but also to their body language and expressions.

Supporting parent–child communications at Learning Ladder

If you need guidance in communicating effectively with your child, we’re here to help! Call your child’s educator or email them about your concerns or needs. You can even set up a meeting for a more in-depth discussion.


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