Talk to your kids

Nothing establishes a stronger parent-child bond than direct interaction with your child long before she can talk for herself. As your child begins to babble and practice language skills, make eye contact, ask open-ended questions and listen to her answers. Share your thoughts, too. Not only will you be nurturing her speech and listening abilities, she’ll learn the back and forth nuances of conversation.

Model appropriate social interaction

Children learn how to interact with friends, family, store employees and strangers by following your lead. “Be careful about subtle messages such as how [you] incorporate texting, emailing and social networking in interpersonal relationships,” Osit advises. In other words, put your phone aside when your child is talking to you and when interacting with others.

Pass the mic

Family meetings and meals are great ways to touch base. Cook suggests putting each member of the family in charge of a different part of the meeting. For example, one child could begin the meeting by reciting an inspiring poem or scripture while another wraps the meeting with a joke, prayer or song.

Use teachable moments

Discuss social interactions that you and your kids see on TV programs, online or in real life. “When … you observe kids interacting inappropriately or disrespectfully to an adult, point it out. Ask your child what he thinks about that behavior and help him evaluate it as appropriate or inappropriate,” Osit says.


Encourage your kids to share their feelings about peers (including those they aren’t friends with), and adults, like teachers and coaches. Discuss ways to manage conflicts and social struggles.

Pick up the phone

Kids can learn to order a pizza or call the dentist to schedule an appointment for themselves. “I’ve encouraged my kids that if they want to have a playdate, they can call their friend’s parent, and I’ll be there to jump on the phone to back them up,” Cook says. “When they take on more roles that parents typically handle, that allows them to feel confident talking to adults, which is often scary for kids.”

Place an order

Before the server approaches at a restaurant, help your child narrow down what to order off of the menu. Even preschoolers can politely request a glass of milk or water.

Use video technology

If you travel, call home using Skype or Facetime, or use the apps to connect with relatives. Your kids will grow more comfortable talking on a camera. You can also use birthdays, the first day of school, the holidays or just random moments to interview your kids on your video camera.

Make a purchase at the store

ext time your child wants to spend some of his allowance or gift money, have him conduct the transaction with the cashier. Be there to support him, but allow him to take the lead.

Seek interactive activities

couting, theater and 4-H give children many opportunities to develop presentation and leadership skills. Also, encourage your child to participate in class plays, musicals and show and tell. The more we practice our communication skills, the better they become and the less anxious we are about managing different situations.

– Christa Melnyk Hines

Recent Posts