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How can I communicate better with my children?

Lynne Kenney
Psychology
So often we talk to our children from another room. Good communication with your children means getting up close. Talk to your child face to face at his or her level. Teach your children how to look you in the eye when you are talking. Get close to them. You might touch their chin or shoulder to alert them and make sure you have eye contact when you are speaking.

I’m sure your family is busy juggling many responsibilities at home, work, and school. Between preparing meals, doing homework, folding laundry, and paying bills, most days are pretty full. But you don’t want to cut short any conversations with your kids. Use these strategies to make the most of your talk time.

  • Focus -- Give your child your undivided attention -- this isn’t a time to multitask.
  • Remove static -- Minimize possible interruptions.
  • Look -- Make eye contact if possible (but, please, not while you’re driving!).
  • Recap -- Really listen to what your child has to say, then paraphrase what was said to make sure you understood it correctly.
  • Clarify -- With an older child, it may help to ask whether she would like your advice or just needs you to listen.

From Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children by Jennifer Trachtenberg.

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Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

More About this Book

Good Kids, Bad Habits: The RealAge Guide to Raising Healthy Children

When kids start going on TV binges or devouring fistfuls of cookies, it's easy to say, "They'll grow out of it." More likely, they're acquiring bad habits that could lead to childhood obesity and...
Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine

So often we talk to our children from another room. Good communication with your children means getting up close. Talk to your child face to face at his or her level. Teach your children how to look you in the eye when you are talking. Get close to them. You might touch their chin or shoulder to alert them and make sure you have eye contact when you are speaking.

Use these strategies to make the most of your talk time.

  • Focus -- Give your child your undivided attention -- this isn’t a time to multitask.
  • Remove static -- Minimize possible interruptions.
  • Look -- Make eye contact if possible (but, please, not while you’re driving!).
  • Recap -- Really listen to what your child has to say, then paraphrase what was said to make sure you understood it correctly.
  • Clarify -- With an older child, it may help to ask whether she would like your advice or just needs you to listen. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.