Effective parent-child communication is the foundation for building your child's self-esteem and fostering loving, supportive relationships with others. Keep the lines open and listen actively to what your child has to say...

Talking to Your Children

  • get your head physically on the same level as your child's when you talk
  • use words and phrases that your children understand
  • avoid including too many ideas in your messages
  • paraphrase what you heard your child express
  • give clear and consistent instructions defining the exact behaviour you want
  • make sure your nonverbal messages do not interfere with or contradict your verbal messages
  • make your messages complete and specific
  • pay full attention to your child and maintain eye contact with him or her to enhance communication
  • avoid thinking about your reply before listening to everything your child has to say
  • teach your children not to interrupt and model that behaviour yourself
  • ask what, how and why questions that promote discussion rather than questions requiring only yes or no answers
  • be alert to body language and respond in kind just as you do with friends

Talking to Your Teen

Conversations with teens can be refreshing and insightful...they should be a part of each day. Most conversations take place in the presence of other people...so find occasions to talk with your teen alone, away from brother, sister and anyone else. Make sure you listen to what is being said and what is not being said. Effective communications is the key to healthy relationships.

  • teens deserve respect
  • adults should respect their teens and expect it in return
  • adults should show respect for a teenagers friends
  • never berate or belittle a teen in front of his/her peers
  • think about how often you ask teens questions and seek their opinions

Alternatives to Physical Discipline:

Provide a Positive Environment for Children

Most children will learn how to behave well if the environment in which they grow up is nurturing and caring. A happy relationship between a parent and a child is the most important foundation on which to build acceptable behaviour.

Children are more likely to grow up behaving well if they are:

  • loved, valued and told how important they are
  • shown how to behave well because the adults around them behave well
  • not expected to behave in ways which are beyond their developmental capacities
  • given clear rules and parents are consistent about them
  • supervised well and kept occupied with appropriate activities
  • provided with predictable and sensible routines
  • having their physical and emotional needs well attended to

Good disciplinary practices include:

  • positive reinforcement
  • praise
  • modelling
  • structure and routine
  • setting and maintaining limits
  • realistic expectations and follow through
  • verbal and non-verbal cues
  • time outs
  • logical consequences
  • problem-solving