Positive Communication with Your Children

From birth to the teenage years and beyond, communication with your child is very important. Positive communication can reinforce good behavior, and help you understand and eliminate bad behavior. It can build your child’s confidence and self-esteem. And you can do it with tips like these:

  • Make the time to talk with your child!
  • When talking with your child, get down to their level (if necessary) and maintain eye contact.
  • Allow your child to finish talking and really listen to what they are saying.

> Fact Sheet in English
> Fact Sheet in Spanish
> Listen to the radio show (mp3, 12 minutes)

Consider these helpful phrases for positive communication:

Label your child’s behavior and not your child.
“It hurts my feelings when you talk to me that way” instead of “You are a bad child”

Start sentences with a positive statement.
“Kate, you are a smart girl. Now let’s talk about a way to get your homework finished.”

Reinforce your child’s feelings.
“Alex, I know you want to play another video game, but you can play one after your homework is finished.”

Use feeling words when you praise your child’s behavior.
“I am so happy you put away your toys!”

Use “you” statements to point out good behavior.
“You have done a great job with that painting!”

Use “I” statements to tell your child what upsets you. “When you didn’t call me, I felt worried and angry.”

WHEN can we communicate?

Do you sometimes feel too busy with work and schedules to focus on communicating with your child? Take advantage of downtime and make it a point to talk while:
- Traveling in the car
- Walking to or from the bus-stop
- Waiting for a sibling at sports practice, music lessons, etc.

WHAT can we talk about?

- What was the favorite part of your day? The worst?
- Did anything worry you today?
- Who did you spend time with today?
These conversations let your child know you care about them, are interested in their ideas and experiences, and can set the tone for more difficult conversations when/if something happens later. Parenting can be tough, but asking for help doesn’t have to be.

If you need more help communicating with your child or with other parenting challenges, reach out! Visit us online at www.scanva.org or call 1-800-CHILDREN.

Brought to you by the Allies in Prevention Coalition and SCAN of Northern Virginia