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Quick and Positive Techniques
for effective communication with your children

Sometimes it's quite challenging to get your kids to cooperate. How to get them actually listening? How can you avoid arguing with your children? Here you'll find some quick and positive techniques for effective communication, so your kid's won't want to refuse to do the things you ask them to do.

Mother asking daughter to take her nap

You can find more, similar communication pictures here.

The first step for all of those techniques for effective communication is though, that you bring yourself into a positive mindset.

No matter how challenging your kid's behaviour is, for them it's all about learning how to succeed as an independent person. So take a deep breath, admire how far they've come already and focus on finding win-win-solutions for all of you.

How to Get your Childrens Attention
Techniques for Effective Communication

Let’s face it; it’s hard to leave any activity you’re absorbed in. For you it might be that e-mail that needs to be finished or maybe you keep forgetting the time when chatting with friends on the phone. 

For your kids it might be that new game or toy they just got or any other activity really. The call “dinner’s ready.” or “Time to go! – Get ready!” Might be even heard, but especially when shouted from a different room, those calls quickly get forgotten. So here’s what you can do, to get your children listening:

  • Go where they are – don’t shout from another room
  • Before you speak, get their attention. Get down to yout kid's level or bring them up to yours; get eye contact; softly lay one hand on their shoulder... Just experiment a bit and find those ways that your children respond to best.

  • Use a pleasant tone of voice and positive words to describe your request. Stay on the lookout for win-win-situations

  • If being absorbed in some activity is the reason, then your kids will be more likely to listen and follow, if you stay with them until they actually start. But be careful here, especially older children might find that annoying and understand it as being ordered around. Then it’s best to negotiate about “warning”-calls ahead of time first. For example “Dinner’s almost ready. Please be at the table in 5 minutes”.

If, instead of "just forgetting" your children more "refuse to do as asked", then try the following techniques.

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How To Get Your Children To Cooperate
Techniques for Effective Communication

Nobody likes to be ordered around or criticised too often. And exactly these are the most common reasons for children to refuse to something.

  • Ask but don’t order. Especially when the day gets a bit stressful, children often hear things like: “Pack your toys away” or “go brush your teeth”. Would you like to be talked to like that? “Mum, wash my t-shirt, find my exercise book, ...?” Why not say instead: “Jarad, would you please pack your toys away?” or “Sara, would you go and brush your teeth please?”
  • Ask “would” instead of “could”. Why? “Can” and “could” can be understood in so many different ways. They seem to be more polite but also question someone’s ability.

  • Be direct: Don’t state what’s wrong, state what you want instead... “The lounge is covered with your toys. Auntie Lisa will come in an hour.” All too often, statements like that are expected to be understood as requests, but the part that would actually be the request is missing: “please pack away your toys”.

  • It’s best to leave those explanatory statements all together, even though it might seem polite to add them. They can be understood in so many different ways. “My toys are not the only things that make the lounge room messy. Besides, Aunty Lisa is always late. She won’t be here in an hour anyway. Why is it me who has to clean up then?” Instead a short “Would you please collect your toys from the lounge room” is much more likely to be followed without refusal.

  • Do it together or at least work together for a common goal: The magical word here – “let’s ...”, for example: “Let’s get ready for Aunty Lisas visit. Would you please pack your toys away?”

  • Don’t lecture, instead model behaviour and let you children make their own experiences safely. For example: It’s cold outside and you’d like your children to dress warmly. Just dress warmly yourself and comment why you do that. If she doesn’t feel like putting on something warm too, then just take a change of warm cloth for when she get’s cold and could make that experience herself.
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How to get around your kids arguing with you
Techniques for Effective Communication

One common reason for your kids arguing with you is that they feel they’re taken any control over what’s happening. So here are a few strategies and techniques for effective communication that help with that. Always remember, you’re looking for solutions where everyone wins.

  1. Avoid the word NO!

    Example 1:
    At the checkouts your child is constantly pointing to all sorts of things.
    Parents often assume that their kids want to have all those things. But more often than not they just want to share their enjoyment about something they see. So instead of saying “No, you can’t have that!” you could also respond “oh, there’s Winnie the Pooh on that one. You like him a lot, don’t you? Who are his friends again?”
    For situations like that please also remember that children are much more contend when they’re not hungry.

    Example 2:
    Mum: “Let’s go, it’s time for your soccer training”
    Child: “But mum, can I quickly finish this?”
    Now, instead of responding: “No, we’re running late already, it’s time to go now!”
    it would be much more positive to say: “sure you can, right after we come back”.
    Even better would be the following:

  2. Prepare for changes – use transitions and rituals
    Tell your children ahead of time that something is going to happen. Like: ”It’s time for soccer training. We’ll leave in 5 minutes. Please finish what you’re doing.“
    Let your children take a part of their loved activity with them. For example, when they were playing with the legos, let them take that dragon they just made or that truck out of their collection.

  3. Give a (limited) choice
    Even though it might not seem much to you, it can make heaps of a difference to them. Be careful though, too much choice can be confusing.
    For example something like: “Which shoes would you like to wear today? The pink ones or the brown ones?” That takes the focus of the task of “putting shoes on”.
    However, don't ask questions that aren’t really choices. If you ask something like “Shall we go home?” you need to be prepared to get the answer “Not yet mum.”

These are only a few quick techniques for effective communication. You’ll find further techniques that build relationships and improve communication when exploring the following topics:

How to Praise Kids showing appreciation

The power of active (reflective) listening

The relationship between verbal (words) and non-verbal communication (for example body language and gestures)

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