Research done by academics Almudena Sevilla, of the University of London, and Cristina Borra, of the University of Seville, has shown that parents spend less than 40 minutes a day engaging in conversation with their child. And that is not enough!
Following Michigan State University Extension advise, as well as recommendations featured in the book What to expect: The toddler years, here we offer you some tips on how to make communication a central part of your relationship with your young child.
- Have an early jumpstart into it! Even if your child’s verbal skills are still limited, laying a good base for dialogue with them is still very important.
- Be a good listener. This might be the best communication advise we can give. Be patient if your child is taking their time to go into the details of a story or to express an idea, and try not to jump too quickly into conclusions.
- Make a big deal of talking about things and set aside time for it. Try to have a good stretch of unbroken time in your daily schedule to talk with your toddler. This means staying clear of distractions such as your cellphone, television, or reading materials for this period of time. A good idea is having a “good morning” and a “goodnight” ritual of talking before school and before bedtime. Now is a great moment to start these new family rituals.
- Help them express things when they’re complicated. Since your child is still developing their language skills, they might experiment feelings that they can’t put into words yet, simply because their vocabulary is still growing. You can aid by providing lots of words to name both positive and negative feelings.
- Be attuned to both verbal and non-verbal communication. Try and focus completely on your toddler, and demonstrate your interest by making comments and asking questions. That way, your child will know that what they are saying is important to you.