Helping Your Child with their Communication Skills
27th September 2021
Communication, whether verbal or non-verbal is vital for children in order that they get their needs met. From birth, babies are hard-wired to communicate via sounds, facial expressions and physical movements.
As a child grows, their skills increase and their communication becomes finer – they move away from squeals and yells and learn to use names, pointing, smiling in order to get what they want or need. The speed at which toddlers develop is amazing and some are incredibly sophisticated when it comes to their communication whilst others may take longer to pick up some of the social niceties we come to expect from growing children.
It’s important for children to learn the finer points of communication as they move towards school age. Social skills rely heavily on communication of all sorts and children who have well-developed language skills generally find the transition easier.
Reading and literacy skills develop at different rates – some children are adept very quickly whilst others take longer to master the skills required to read and write fluently. If you’re concerned about your child, consider seeking out private literacy support for your child. One-to-one, focused help can make all the difference.
How to help your toddler develop their communication skills
Here are some ideas to help you assist your toddler to develop in the most effective ways:
Even babies love listening to conversation – once your child can join in a little, engage them in conversation so that they develop the necessary skills involved and learn to take turns.
Ask open-ended questions, ‘what did you like best about the shopping trip today?”. This will help your child learn to converse and show them that their thoughts and opinions are valuable – this helps them to grow in confidence.
Don’t forget non-verbal communication.
Point out the physical signals which other children and adults around you are showing. “Tom, can you see how Richard is covering up his ears? He doesn’t like it when you shout loudly.” And make suggestions such as, “Try speaking to Richard in a quiet voice.” It may sound obvious to us but these are not skills which all children pick up automatically.
Help your child to name their emotions
Children feel things just as deeply as adults do. What may seem like a minor incident to us can seem like a huge injustice or something very upsetting to a child. Because smaller children don’t yet have the language for their feelings, it’s important that we name them. If your child feels sad because their friend is hurt, let your child know that this feeling is called sympathy…explain to them how this is an important feeling and one which most people feel at some point.
Similarly, feeling angry because someone cheated at a game – that’s a valid feeling, try naming it. Talking about feelings helps children to understand strong emotions and unpack them in the moment rather than reacting in frustration or fear.
Read with your child, spend time with them, tell them about the things you love and ask them questions about the things they love. Discuss books, films, cartoons, kittens – anything they’re passionate about!
Children who experience plenty of conversation will always be streets ahead when it comes to communication.