According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, children go through many important communication milestones between their 36 and 48 months of age. This means that what your child can understand and the complexity with which they can express and communicate with you increases greatly around this age. Communication is very important not only for language development, but for your kid’s social and emotional skills. Positive and effective communication sets the base with which to build and mend relationships.
According to the recommendations of the Early Childhood Development Department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, parents need to practice positive communication with their young children. They emphasize that developing children benefit greatly from a communication that is open, respectful, honest, straight-forward, and kind, no matter the topic at hand.
Here are a couple of practical tips from The Big Book of Parenting, by Doctor in Education Michele Borba:
- Understand the “no” as a way of asserting newly discovered independence. Toddlers live in a world full of big people, feel things they don’t know how to manage, and want to express feelings and ideas without having the language skills to do so, so it’s natural that they crave for some control at times and act defiantly. Try not to take it personally when your little one says no and model the appropriate way of interacting. Explain that it’s not nice to speak rudely and try integrating some choices into their daily routines.
- Don’t expect your child to internalize social graces just yet, model behavior instead. Three and four-year-olds are still very young to master their impulses. So, if you find yourself mortified because your little one is talking very loudly at the movies, know that this is completely normal and take advantage of your child’s inner copycat by whispering “use your quiet voice, like this”. You can even practice this and other alternative behaviors at home, which will make it easier to do so in the library the next time you go there.
- Make talking fun instead of overwhelming. Some kids can get frustrated or inhibited when they’re given many instructions or corrections. So, try not to draw attention to the mistakes they might be making, and simply repeat the words in a clear way when you next have the chance.
If you are interested on more tips about communicating with your young children, you can check out this one-pager published by the University of Nebraska: Clear Communication with your Children