BOOST YOUR CHILD’S communication skills

Many people list excellent communication skills as one of their attributes in their CV’s. But is it? Kenyans suffer from acute communication malnutrition and this explains the exchanges of blows and anything that can fly as witnessed in the recent past in the media, especially among MCAs in county governments.

Communication is a life skill that is vital in our day-to-day activities. It is, therefore, imperative to help your child develop communication skills as early as possible. Read this article to learn the many ways you can teach your child good communication skills.

Whenever we communicate, the objective is to share ideas, information, feelings and thoughts. More often than not, we want to appeal to the emotions and logic in our pursuit to be understood. Many careers today require individuals who can express themselves precisely and concisely. It is worrying that quite a number of people are unable to pass across information effectively.

In such instances, they lose out on many opportunities. The burgeoning number of Kenyans who cannot express themselves competently is perturbing. It is very likely for one to be looked down upon or even dismissed as irrelevant just from their speech. You don’t want that to happen to your child, do you? Here is how you can develop your child’s communication skills.

1. Actively listen to your child

When talking to your child, give him/her the time to respond without interrupting. Most people do not wait for others to finish what they are saying before chiming in with what they have to say. A rule of the thumb is to give your child five to 10 seconds to allow them to process their thoughts. This will help your child be a good listener, a very important aspect of communication. And don’t overcorrect your child, as this is likely to shatter their confidence.

2. Help your child develop language skills

First of all, talk, talk, and talk some more with your child. The saying practice makes perfect holds water. Talking with your child will help them realise they are good communicators and this will boost their confidence. Ask open-ended questions such as: “What did you learn in school today?” “Which is your favourite subject and why?” and so on. This will develop their thought process and make them critical thinkers. Always create an environment that will facilitate communication between you and your child. Ask probing questions to encourage your child to open up about their feelings. An example of a probing question is: “You look upset. Are you sad because your friend did not talk to you?” This will make your child open up and make them feel free to talk to you.

3. Read, read, read

One of the easiest ways to develop your child’s vocabulary is through reading. Encourage them to read storybooks, newspapers and any appropriate material they come across. Read together the back of the cereal box, signs and billboards on the streets, and people’s shirts. Look at pictures and have them talk about what they see. This is not only fun, but also interactive and it will help them strengthen their expressive language. It is also a great idea to review the story once you are through reading it by having your child summarise what you have just read.

4. Play communication games

Games are an effective way of demonstrating the different aspects of communication. You can demonstrate to your child how to be a good storyteller. Be sure to incorporate all the verbal and non-verbal skills such as facial expression, gestures, tonal variation and body movement. You can also practice taking turns and explain to your child when to know it is their turn to speak. Simply have fun with words.

5. Be a good speaking model

The family is the basic unit of society and it is from here that children pick values. If you want to develop your child’s communication skills, you need to show that you have the skills yourself. Your child is watching you, whether consciously or unconsciously. When you talk to others with kindness and respect, your child is likely to follow your lead. Always be conscious when speaking to them – use complete sentences, correct grammar and articulate your words clearly.

PUBLISHED MAY 2015