Have you ever told your children, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it?” I have. When my son uses a sarcastic tone with me, and I correct him, he’ll often come back with, “What’s wrong with what I said?” And that’s when I get to teach him — once again — about the elements of good communication skills.
When we teach our children good communication skills, it’s best to keep it simple until they’re old enough to learn the more subtle nuances. But if they can remember the three key parts of good communication skills, they’ll be on their way. It all begins with WWH.
What you say.
The first rule of good communication is choosing the right words. Explain to your children that some words should not be used in conversation — curse words and insults are never appropriate. Then talk to them about using words that are kind and encouraging. You can show them our Making Friends printable and discuss how compliments and questions can be used to enhance conversation.
You can also teach your children the drive through communication method of communication. It’s a great tool for kids to use when they want to be sure that someone understands their point. And even though it was designed with married couples in mind, the concept is easy for children to grasp.
When and where you say it.
Good communication skills mean that we use the right words at the right time. For example, asking a teacher a question is fine, but if you blurt out a question while the teacher is explaining something to the class, that’s not a good time. You’ll also want to teach your child that they should let others finish speaking instead of interrupting them and jumping in.
How you say it.
This is the big one for kids. You’ll want to teach your children the concept of tone, as in, “The words you just said were fine, but your tone was not.” So if you hear your son tell your daughter, “You’re a genius,” with the wrong tone, explain to him that how you say something is just as important as what you choose to say.
Good communication skills do allow room for passion in speaking, but a sarcastic or demeaning tone will make the listener angry or defensive– or hurt their feelings. If your children take a sarcastic or disrespectful tone with you, you’ll want to respond with good communication skills too. Here are wise words to say when your children talk back.
What communication skills are you working on with your children?