Communication works for those who work at it. – John Powell
Communication skills have a significant impact on a child’s personality development. Psychological studies show that during the initial childhood years, it is critical for parents, families, and educators to be responsive for substantial stimulation of children’s communication skills (1). Thus, it is essential for parents to participate in their child’s communication development.
In this post, we share with you some fun-filled and interactive ways to a child’s communication skills. But before that, we tell you about the importance of communication skills for kids, the essential skills they need, and tips to improve communication.
Importance Of Communication Skills For Children
Effective communication skills are as important for children as they are for adults. Yet, for children, the importance of these skills is preeminent because of the following reasons.
- Helps them express their ideas, feelings, and thoughts with clarity.
- Facilitates clear understanding and better learning. This is an important achievement for your child to excel in academics where learning and meaningful exchange of information is pivotal.
- Promotes consequential exchange of information with others, a step necessary for the development of interpersonal skills.
- Develops your child’s social skills (social IQ). Social communication skills are important to develop strong relationships personally and professionally.
- Boosts confidence and self-esteem.
- Helps your child develop a distinct communication style that is important to make a mark in the future.
Good communication skills are also needed to sustain in the intense competition of the world once the child becomes independent.
[Read: Educational Activities For Kids]
Basic Communication Skills For A Child
Here are some of the basic communication skills that are necessary for a child.
- Initiate or enter a conversation with polite enthusiasm. The child can practice this communication habit by greeting people before initiating a conversation. A warm smile and polite tone can strike the right note. For example, when your child meets a guest, guide them to smile, and say, “Hello, how are you?” or “Hi, it’s been a long time since we met. Hope you are well!” The child should also be taught on the importance of non-judgmental communication.
- Make eye contact with the listener. It reflects the child’s respect and interest in the conversation. Looking away or yawning during a conversation indicates disinterest and is considered bad manners.
- Speak clear and try to be audible. It is necessary for the comfort of a listener. Besides, it indicates that the speaker is confident about what they are speaking. Make your child practice speaking with you and other family members to learn this skill through practice.
- Be empathetic and accept differences. Understanding the value of empathy is important learning. It will help your child know that every individual is different, and he/she will have different perspectives. Acknowledging these differences can help in the development of proper communication skills.
- Never interrupt a conversation. If your child interrupts a conversation often, it is an early indicator of poor self-regulation. Make your child aware of the importance of listening by guiding them on the ways to practice it.
- Listen and respond appropriately. Patient listening helps gather information without lapses while responding appropriately shows how well the information is received. It is vital for communication to be effective.
- Complete the communication loop. Whether formal or informal, communication must have proper closure. Teach your child to never leave a conversation without reaching a closure. Doing so shows your interest and respect towards the conversation that happened. Here is how your child can know when the conversation has ended:
- It can indicate a closure of the conversation if the speaker says, “All right, then, do you have anything else to say or share?” or “It was nice talking to you!” or “I’m glad we got to catch up!”
- Watch non-verbal cues such as – checking their phone or watch, acting distracted, packing up their things, standing up when they were previously sitting, etc.
These communication skills are basic and can be attained with persistent efforts.
[Read: Language development in children]
Tips To Support Your Child In Developing Effective Communication Skills
As a parent, you could practice the following tips to help your child overcome communication issues (2). These useful tips could effectively help your child develop strong communication skills.
- Encourage your child to talk so that they can share their feelings, thoughts, and ideas. Make them feel that approaching you for communication is easy.
- Listen to your child, understand, and respond in a sensitive way. Address their feelings of anger, embarrassment, sadness, and fear with the same vigor as you would do when they share something good with you.
- Avoid interrupting your child when he/she is communicating because this is what you expect your child to do when you are talking. Thus, to teach them how to be a patient listener, you need to be a patient listener.
- Never be judgemental as there may be some issues that might look insignificant to you, but for your child, they might be grave.
- Stop being overly critical and do not try to correct all the communication problems at once.
- Focus on body language and tone. This is crucial to help understand what is not said. Children can be secretive about their issues, especially the ones that embarrass them.
- Provide them moral support and ensure that you have their back. Try to get involved with them in the issue and help them resolve it by setting the right examples.
Interacting with children could help them overcome social and communication issues. It will help them realize the value of productive conversation. However, if a child has chronic communication issues that seem difficult to manage, then consulting an expert is wise.
Why Do Children Struggle With Effective Communication?
There could be various interrelated factors responsible for your child’s communication problems. However, some of the basic reasons could be:
- Absence of guidance: Learning and practicing effective communication skills needs hand-holding. Young children mostly learn by seeing their peers and families. Thus, be their role models and help them learn the art of communication. Oral language skills or oratory skills are best developed with regular interactions with each other. Thus, establish positive interactions with your child frequently. Do not forget that children mirror their parents a lot of time, so it is important to communicate rightly.
- Increased screen time: Children in the age group of 8-18 years spend almost seven hours a day on screens. Experts consider it one of the reasons for poor communication development in children (3).
- Communication disorders: A communication disorder such as speech-sound disorder or social communication disorder could be one of the reasons affecting a child’s ability to communicate (4). A communication disorder may be developmental or physical. This issue can be managed with the help of an expert who would trace the root of the issue and then treat it accordingly.
Some other relevant reasons that could affect a child’s communication skills are hearing problems, stuttering, and unclear speech. In such cases, professional advice and guidance are required.
Communication Games And Activities For Kids
Communication games for children are age-specific activities aimed at developing efficacious verbal, nonverbal, and visual skills. Regular practice of these games could help you develop good conversation skills in your child. Here is a list of games that you may consider trying.
1. Chinese whisper
This is one of the common group games that may help develop good listening skills in children. This game is fun with a group of seven to eight people. Here is how you play the game.
- All the players sit in a circle close enough to whisper in the other player’s ear.
- As the game begins, one child/individual whispers a message to the player beside him/her.
- The same message should be passed by the other player to the player sitting next to them.
- The process will continue until all the players in the circle are done whispering to their next player.
- Once the message reaches the last player, ask him/her to say it aloud. It will be fun to hear what they said.
Start the game with a simple sentence. Once the children understand the game, use more complex sentences.
[Read: Number Games For Kids]
2. Pointing directions
This is a fine activity to hone your child’s nonverbal communication skills, such as written communication. The game will help your child understand that successful navigation is possible only when the communication is accurate and precise. In this activity:
- Instruct your child to jot down the directions to a nearby mall or shop.
- Commence a journey with your child following those directions to reach the place.
- On your way, help your child understand how he/she could have communicated the instructions better. For example, you could guide them on marking landmarks to easily find the way, or mark lane numbers while mentioning left or right turns.
3. Point and tell
This interactive fun-activity may help sharpen your child’s verbal communication skills. In the game, you have to give a random object to your child on which they have to speak five to six lines.
The object could be anything basic, like his/her favorite dress, his/her lunchbox, or a raincoat. While talking on the topic, your child will express feelings/thoughts that boost their confidence and enhance their vocabulary, diction, and fluency. This activity also helps in practicing the correct pronunciation of words.
4. Picture storytelling
Children love to listen to stories, and now it is their turn to narrate one. Picture storytelling is an interesting activity wherein your child has to narrate a story based on pictures provided to him/her.
This activity helps your child process visual cues and then use the interpreted information to speak. To do so, the child has to arrange the pictures in an order/logical sequence in which he/she wants to narrate the story. Doing this activity helps your child develop their creative communication skills.
[Read: Storytelling For Kids]
It is just like your PowerPoint presentations. Ask your child to prepare a crisp presentation on paper or on PowerPoint on a topic. Tell them the audience to which the topic will be presented, and then you may let them choose the topic from a number of ideas like recycling, saving water, controlling pollution, using plastic bags, etc. It will enhance your child’s oratory skills and boost their confidence to speak in public.
Impromptu or unrehearsed speech practice is an ideal method to sharpen your child’s public speaking skills, especially impromptu. To play, make chits on some interesting and fun topics and ask your child to pick one chit and give a speech on it for two to three minutes.
Since the activity is impromptu, your child will get hands-on experience in thinking, articulating, and presenting his/her ideas/thoughts/information with accuracy. To increase the complexity of the game, you may set a time limit for speaking. Overall, this activity could be used as an effective tool for language development.
7. Emotional charades
This game involves a combination of communication types to develop comprehension and presentation skills. It will also help your child fine-tune their communication abilities using facial expressions.
To play, take a few chits and write emotional scenarios on them. The scenarios should be light and age-specific, like losing your pencil-box, losing your favorite dress, waiting for the school bus, or sneaking into your friend’s bag. Each child gets a scenario and acting while speaking is not allowed.
After the scenario is guessed, discuss the emotional response. This will help children to express their feelings verbally pertaining to a specific situation. If your child is not able to correctly identify most of the emotions, visit a pediatric psychiatrist/psychologist.
[Read: Shape-Learning Games]
8. ‘Guess what I am thinking of’
This game begins with all players sitting in a circle. At the center of the circle sits a player who is called a “thinker.” The thinker starts the game by saying that I am thinking of a thing (or someone), which (or who) is an animal (or person/thing/place/plant/food/occupation). Now, other children have to try and identify what it is that the thinker is thinking, by asking questions. However, the thinker can respond only with a “Yes” or a “No.” If no one guesses the answer, then the thinker is declared the winner.
9. Identify the described
This game is a fun way to enhance your child’s comprehension and interpretation skills. To play, you would need about four to five children. Blindfold one child while giving an object to the rest.
Now all the children, except the one who has been blindfolded, will describe a characteristic of the item, in turns. The blindfolded child has to guess the item by understanding the verbal description. If needed, the blindfolded child may request for more clues by asking questions.
10. Trolley challenge
This super fun activity keeps your child amused while fine-tuning their communication skills as you go around the supermarket. In the game, every time you pick an item, ask your child to tell three things about it. For example, if you pick a water bottle, the child might say – it is a plastic bottle with a transparent base and a blue cap. This activity is a good way to develop diction, which is an important part of oral communication.
Communication proficiency in children happens gradually through fine-tuning of communication skills. As a parent, you can hand-hold your child and help them master their interpersonal skills with continuous practice. Engage in learning games and communication activities that would teach your child the basics of communication with fun and ease. If you observe any developmental problems, then do not hesitate to consult an expert.
2. Communicating well with children: tips; Raising Children
3. Screen Time May Affect Social Interaction Skills in Children; Winchester Ho3spital
4. Communication Disorders; St. Louis Children’s