I feel frustrated when I see children who are comfortable communicating with friends outside  but fail to talk to their parents at home. They live a hypocritical life in that they are very quiet at home. However, they are very outspoken when they get to people outside the home. Some even pretend to be what they are not because of fear. Some fail to talk because of the negative response of their parents each time they express themselves.

Talking to a child begins when husband and wife talk to each other in the presence of their children. Children pick adults’ vocabulary and are confident in using them. Parents should begin talking to a child from conception. We can talk aloud when praying, prophesy positively to the foetus, read the Bible and sing aloud. When the baby is born, parents should talk directly to the baby-child. Ziglar says, “Evidence is overwhelming that the more the newborn baby is held, sung to, talked to, hummed to, the more emotionally stable and intelligent the baby is going to be.” You can talk to your baby when you are feeding, changing the diapers bathing or holding him or her. As the child grows older continue to affect his life through healthy conversation.

Benefits of Talking to Children

Talking to children helps them to listen attentively:  When clear instructions are given, children listen with understanding and this helps them to obey instructions.

Talking to children will help them acquire new vocabulary. Have you listened to a child of five who speaks big adult’s words that he/she does not even understand? Children increase vocabularies as they listen to what adults and other people around them say.

Talking to children encourages them to express themselves: Children love to express themselves when we talk with them. When we talk, we expect children to talk to us. So, when you ask questions, ask them in a way that they will respond but not with a yes or no answer. When they ask a question you do not have an answer for, tell them you will find the answer and please do.

Talking to children helps them pick acceptable words and phrases: Each culture has a way of communicating with respect. They can also hear others talk when the person has not said a word.

Talking to a child also encourages them to talk to their parents: They love to respond verbally to parents’ questions, statements and actions. Great orators are built from childhood. Those who speak well in society built themselves up when they were young Talking to a child makes him or her mare intelligent and emotionally balanced

Talking to a child will enable him/her to know how to talk to God

Talking to a child constructively will help him/her listen to something of great value and reject evil counsels and advice.

Why Children Do not Talk to Parents?

Children fail or are reluctant to talk to their parents because of fear, criticism, discipline and parent’s inability to keep secrets.

Fear: Many parents are fearsome. Their presence brings fear and panic to children, especially fathers. Most parents do not know how to show love and attention, and the children know this very well. I heard about a father who always yells and shouts when he talks to children. He spanks little kids of one year for touching his book or coming closer to him.  I wonder why such people marry and have children when they are terrors. A six-year-old child may have the fear of not being understood.

Criticism: Criticism is one of the things that militate against children effective  communication. Adults make mistakes, how much more children? When parents always wear the garment of criticism, children respond negatively. If there is nothing good your child does, if you do not appreciate anything he/she does, you pick holes in everything he says and think it is childish talk that holds no water, your child will not talk to you. If you do not respect and respond to your child’s ideas and insight, he or she will find it difficult to talk to you. Do not condemn children for talking too much; correct them when they say what they should not say. Parents should always give children the opportunity to express themselves.

Discipline: Discipline is leading a child to know what to do and what not to do. It is instructing, teaching, and nurturing a child. However, when punishment replaces discipline and it is not done in love children will be silenced because they fear spanking.

Inability to Keep Secrets: Like adults, children have secrets and they want their secrets kept when they tell adults. Parents should respect and keep in mind what children tell them (Luke 2:51).

Negative Response: For babies and infants, the word “No” is important when you disagree with what they are doing. Children of ages four and above do ask questions that require Ye or No answer. However, parents should always give reasons for saying no. For instance, if John asked, “Mum, Can I have a biscuit?”Since you do not want him to lose it, you automatically say no. The child expects you to give a reason Why can’t you say, “No, I was asked to give our neighbour. When I go out I will buy the one you and your brother can eat.”When you also ask your older children questions avoid the ones that will require them to answer Yes or No.

A few Things You Can Do to Encourage Your Child to Speak Out

Talking about God and talking to God around your children will lead them to converse and express themselves. Children have many questions they want to ask you about God. And you too have questions you can ask them about God.

Look for something that interests your child. If he likes watching a particular TV show, watch the show with him. After the programme, ask some questions that will make your child speak. like, if you were(name of a character in the show)what would you do? If he likes garden work, encourage him to make a small garden so that you can find something to talk about.

Tell him riddles. Many of our evenings today are full of conversation with business partners, church meetings, phone calls, television programmes and internet browsing. All these have robbed us of having a good time with our children. When I was young one of the things that drew me closer to my father every evening was stories and riddles. Some stories would make us sing and ask questions.

When my father is absent we do tell the stories to our friends and this has built up confidence in us to talk with daddy. While other children ran away from their fathers, we loved to come closer to converse with our fathers. Parents should tell children bed time stories from the Bible and some stories that teach morals. Parents should find time to play games with them and take them out to visit places of interest.

Discuss about family members, uncles and aunts, nephews and cousins, grandpas and grandmas, and so on. Telling them about the history surrounding their birth and their family history will lead them to converse without fear.

Talk positively and affirm them for jobs well done.

Creative talking: You can choose something like cassava or palm tree. Ask your child to talk about how useful he/she would be if he/she were cassava or palm tree.

Oral comprehension is also a good way to encourage children to speak out. Many English teachers teach us this in our primary school. We can do the same at home.

Effective Conversation

Effective conversation takes place when parents appreciate children and correct them in love; when they create time for interaction and encourage children to speak out; when children can have confidence in their parents and freely express themselves and when parents intentionally create time to talk and listen to their children. Remember that if you fail to talk to your child, other people outside there will talk to them, give them wrong advice and mislead them. Many are shy when they become adults; while some do not even have the confidence to talk to people.

Some cannot express themselves unless they write down what they want to say. Help your child be confident. In communication, we must teach children how to address elders, say the right thing at the right time, say please, thank you, and I am sorry, converse with God and be humble in speech. Parents too should watch the tone of their voice, avoid yelling and shouting, and allow and accept interruption from their child once in awhile. Do not forget the other part of the communication discussed last month. Listen to your children and talk to them. Remember that talking takes time, and listening takes discipline.