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Six Communication Skills Every Child Should Know
óby Elena Neitlich
Teaching children how to communicate politely and
effectively is one of a parent's most important tasks.
Failing to teach proper communication skills could socially
limit a child for a lifetime.
"I was at a party the other night and I got trapped in the
corner by a man who just talked and talked and talked. I
tried to give him the signals to end the conversation, but
he didn't pick up on them. What a bore." Teaching children
how to communicate politely and effectively is one of a
parent's most important tasks. Assuming that children will
learn proper communication skills without parental guidance
is a big mistake. Parents should begin teaching their
children basic communication skills at birth and continue to
hone their child's skills as the child matures.
Communicating well with others is a basic tenet of society.
Daily conversations with children are an excellent way for
parents to model basic communication skills. Deliberate
conversations with children, using polite conversational
skills, help lay a foundation for good communication later
in life. The parent's ultimate goal is to raise a person who
converses courteously, who listens to what others say, and
who is able to clearly express his or her own thoughts,
ideas and opinions. On page 195 of her book, Emily Post's
Etiquette, Peggy Post lists six basics of communication that
parents should teach to their kids.
First, she advises, make eye contact. It is important that
children be taught to establish eye contact with the person
with whom they are speaking. Looking directly at the other
person in the conversation shows interest and gives respect.
Children need to be taught that looking away is a sign of
disinterest and is not good manners.
Second, speak clearly and correctly. Using good
pronunciation, not rushing speech and using good grammar are
all aspects of communication that parents should model for
children. Parents should pay attention to how their children
are speaking and gently correct without embarrassing. There
is no need to correct mistakes in front of others, doing so
may cause children to feel self-conscious, inhibiting their
speech in public.
Third, take turns and don't interrupt. Children must be
trained not to jump into a conversation just because they
feel like talking. It is important that parents curb this
behavior and teach children self-control. When a child
interrupts, the parent should stop their conversation,
firmly tell the interrupting child to wait their turn, and
then pick-up the conversation where they left off.
Fourth, pay attention and respond appropriately. Modeling
good listening skills to children is the best way to teach
good listening. When conversing with children, parents
should listen attentively and repeat key phrases back to the
child so that the child feels heard. Ask appropriate
questions of the child and allow the child to respond. Show
interest in what the child has to say. The best
conversationalists are those who listen well.
Fifth, enter conversations politely. There is a correct way
to join a conversation that uses good manners. If parents
consistently demonstrate how to politely enter a
conversation, overtime, children will learn the practice.
Parents should show children how to approach the group
quietly, smile to those in conversation, listen to what
people are saying, and wait until they are spoken to before
speaking. It is also important for parents to teach children
how to behave politely when someone joins an active
conversation. Those in the group should smile and nod to
recognize the person joining them, when the speaker
finishes, the group can greet the newcomer and make
Finally, Post notes that one should end conversations
pleasantly. Walking away from a conversation with good
manners is a crucial skill to possess and one that parents
should work hard at teaching to their children. Parents
should encourage children to leave a conversation saying
some pleasantry such as, "I promised my cousin that I would
throw the ball with him and so I need to go now, but it was
really nice talking to you." Other important skills that
parents should focus on when teaching children basic
communicational skills are controlling volume, not using
"potty talk" and keeping private matters private.
Parents should also help children to understand nonverbal
communication and cues. Rude facial expressions like eye
rolling and grimaces as well as yawning at a speaker, hair
twisting, turning one's back to the speaker, finger nail
picking and checking one's watch, are all bad manners.
Children need to learn that their nonverbal actions and
behaviors can make people feel badly. Learning to read other
people's nonverbal cues is an important lesson too, and with
time, children will begin to understand when to end
conversations, finish a story or change a subject.
Being an adept communicator is a necessary skill in today's
world. Children need guidance from their parents to learn
how to communicate effectively and politely. Good listening
skills, self-control, use of good grammar, and sensitivity
are all skills that are learned. If parents start modeling
conversation skills early, they will help their children
develop refined and sophisticated communication behaviors
that will benefit them greatly in adulthood.
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Elena Neitlich is the owner and CEO of Moms on Edge, LLC. http://www.momsonedge.com
My company designs, manufactures and sells children's
behavioral products and parenting aids to families seeking
support in raising small children. I write parenting
articles about general behavior issues, manners, social
skills and raising children. My company has been featured in
Entrepreneur Magazine and the TODAY show and I have won some
major national small business contests.
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