Ministry of Education, Guyana

How to Teach Your Child Good Interpersonal Communication Skills

Good interpersonal communication skills are essential for almost every aspect of life. Being able to effectively communicate with others helps people resolve problems, establishes trust, encourages understanding and compassion and helps build relationships. Teaching your child how to effectively communicate with others provides him with a gift that can last a lifetime.
But your child needs your help in learning how to relate to others and knowing how to express his needs, wants and concerns in a socially-appropriate way.

Model good interpersonal skills when you interact with others. For example, when you have a disagreement with your spouse, show your child that you can work things out in a mature, adult manner, instead of screaming at each other or calling each other names. Children learn values and behaviors by following their parents' example.

Teach your child positive social skills. As a parent, you have many opportunities to teach your child how to communicate her needs or how to get the attention of others. For example, you might role play specific situations with your child, such as how to approach a potential playmate or how to ask a friend to share his toys. Or you might encourage her to ask for what she needs from others, saying "please" and "thank you" when appropriate.

Explain that other people have needs and wants. Children naturally lean towards egocentrism, according to a 2010 study by neuroscientists at Georgetown University's Medical Center. Children need to be taught to display consideration and concern for others. Don't let your child intentionally disrespect another person; intervene immediately if you hear your child involved in bullying, name-calling or other forms of socially-inappropriate behavior.

Help your child develop good problem-solving skills by discussing the ways he might resolve peer problems. Explain to your child the importance of offering a heartfelt apology when he does something wrong. Help your child learn to recognize when he is at fault. Emphasize the necessity of talking about problems, instead of acting them out.

Listen to your child when she talks to you. Busy parents are often distracted by chores and other responsibilities and might only half-listen to their children at times. By showing that you are totally engaged in the conversation, you not only role-model effective listening skills, you also show her that she is important and that you are truly interested in what she has to say, which can help build her sense of self-esteem.


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