A survey conducted by Pew Research found that 90 percent of American parents believe that developing strong communication skills is one of the most important skills kids will need to learn in order to succeed in today’s world. Whether you have an infant or an older child, here’s how to make sure your budding connector is on the right track.
- Talk to your baby all of the time. She loves to hear your voice.
- Kids learn language best when loved ones interact with them directly. Label things that you see, sing songs and ask questions.
- Read to your child daily. He’ll build empathy, listening and language skills.
- Role model. Show your kids how you ask for assistance on the phone and in stores, and how to interact with people you don’t know well, from random strangers to customer service representatives.
- Be aware of how and when you use your phone. Children will use their devices according to how they watch their parents use theirs.
- Coach conversation skills by suggesting questions they can ask a new friend.
- Tell stories to impart your values, teach resilience and build pride in your family’s heritage.
- Teach manners early. Small courtesies like please and thank you foster a sensitivity toward others.
- Ask your kids open-ended questions. Then listen attentively.
- Invite your youngster to talk to relatives and friends on the phone, Facetime and Skype.
- Encourage kids to think of ways to problem-solve social challenges from sharing to bullying. Work through troubling issues together.
- Create sacred tech-free spaces in your home and car to encourage casual conversation.
- Carve out unstructured play time every day. Kids build communication and storytelling skills through imaginative play with dolls, building blocks, action figures and even empty boxes.
- Take walks and drives with your child. Kids are more likely to open up when you aren’t looking directly at them.
To learn more ways to raise a competent communicator in today’s digital world, check out my book Happy, Healthy & Hyperconnected: Raise a Thoughtful Communicator in a Digital World available for download here, on Amazon (also available in paperback) and other online retailers.