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From monosyllables to deep discussions: How to get your child talking

From monosyllables to deep discussions: How to get your child talking

As a parent, you want to see your children be articulate and confident. After all, we can see that people with strong communication skills benefit both professionally and personally.

However, most children are unable to open up and express themselves, particularly when it comes to sensitive topics. How can parents then create an environment in which their children can learn the art of effective communication?

Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to help your child become more comfortable with openly discussing difficult topics. In this article, we will discuss how you can create a dialogue-friendly environment at home where your child feels comfortable sharing their ideas without fear of being judged or criticised.

1. Take advantage of the window of opportunity

Children aged 10 to 12 actively seek guidance or advice from their parents. However, as they grow older and become teenagers, they begin to seek advice and information from their peers and the media*.

So, rather than waiting until their children are older, parents with children aged 10 to 12 should seize this golden opportunity to discuss important topics with them! It’s understandable that some parents may be hesitant to discuss sensitive topics with their children, so here’s a list of excellent books to help you and your child get started.

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Reading this book can open up a variety of topics such as how to deal with bullies and how to behave around people who look different or may have physical disabilities.

Fourteen Talks by the Age of Fourteen by Michelle Icard

This book for parents provides advice on how to talk to children about money, changing friendships, fairness, technology, and other topics.

The Wishmakers by Tyler Whitesides and Jessica Warrick

This amusing story is an excellent starting point for discussions about how to make good decisions while keeping the consequences in mind.

Star Dish by Lisa Fipps

Get this book to start conversations about body positivity and the power of self-acceptance.

2. Foster an atmosphere of openness and acceptance

According to several child psychologists, when parents actively work to make their home a judgement-free environment, it encourages their children to open up to them - not only to talk about sensitive topics, but also to come to their parents if they mess up.

3. Encourage dialogue by asking open-ended questions

Asking open-ended questions can help you and your child talk more. But, of course, we need to be able to listen to our children without judgement or criticism. Doing this will encourage dialogue while making your child feel safe to share their thoughts and opinions. This helps them feel supported by you, and this will in turn make them more willing to start conversations with you in the future.

4. Listen and ask follow-up questions

Listening actively and thoughtfully is one of the most effective strategies for encouraging dialogue between a parent and their child. Listening is more than just hearing what your child has to say; it involves being genuinely interested in what they are telling you. Show them that you are listening by making eye contact and responding with thoughtful questions or comments. Asking follow-up questions when your child is sharing their thoughts and opinions is a great way to show interest in what they are saying and helps to build emotional closeness.

5. Give your child space to think and reflect on the conversation

It is important for parents to give their children space to think about and reflect on conversations that have taken place. Allowing some time for reflection gives children a chance to process what has been discussed and formulate new ideas about it.

6. Praise them for participating actively in discussions

Praise can be a powerful motivator for children to participate in communication because it reinforces positive behaviour and encourages them to speak up in the future. Simple words of affirmation such as telling your child you are proud of them for speaking up or telling them they have interesting ideas can go a long way towards making your child feel valued and secure in their thoughts and opinions.

7. Make sure there is plenty of time allocated for conversation topics each day

Busy parents may struggle to find the time and energy to engage their children in meaningful conversations on a daily basis. Making time for conversation is necessary, though, if you want to develop those close emotional ties with your child. Because when you take the time to talk to them and listen to them, you show them that they are valued and important in your life.


Encouraging your child to participate actively in conversations is an important part of their development. By following the tips outlined above, you can create a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions with you. Listening actively, asking open-ended questions, providing non-judgemental feedback, playing games that promote communication skills, praising them for participating actively in discussions, and making sure there is plenty of time allocated for conversation topics each day are all great ways to foster dialogue between parent and child. With these strategies in place, you will be able to help your child grow emotionally while building strong bonds at home!



  1. C. Worthman, M. Tomlinson, and M Rotheram-Borus, 'When can parents most influence their child's development? Expert knowledge and perceived local realities', Social Science & Medicine, vol. 154, 2016, p. 62-69.
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