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Get Ahead Kids - Vol. 5, No. 3 - May/June 2013

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Hearing with Your Head & Your Heart

By Michelle Worthington

Effective communication should take into account a child's emotional life and their age appropriate agendas. The developmental tasks that confront and challenge them at different growth stages mean that their communication needs change over time.

If we think of effective communication between parent and child as a means of imparting experience, knowledge and guidance to the next generation, then the best time to start is from the very beginning. Setting an example that derives its influence from a relationship of respect, trust and affection.

Communication, like discipline is about setting boundaries. This is one of the hardest tasks for parents, especially when it comes to toddlers and teenagers whose tasks include finding out about life and doing things for themselves, without wanting to take advice from others.

Another issue is finding the most effective methods of communication. There are different approaches and different philosophies associated with the phrase 'effective communication'. Finding a balance between care and control provide a daunting challenge and some parents overcompensate by becoming tentative and inconsistent.

My oldest child tends to be too submissive to authority and easily influenced by his friends. He finds it difficult to stick up for his own rights and communicate his point of view and meekly gives in to the wishes and attitudes of others. Hopefully, he will learn to discriminate between desirable and undesirable influences.

My youngest son is turning out to be a loveable little tyrant. This is a nice way of saying that at times he can act like a spoilt brat. Outsiders fall prey to his powerful charisma as he uses his charm and powers of communication in order to get his own way. He finds it very hard to cope in certain reality experiences and does not always understand why things don't go the way he thinks they should.

In my opinion, the first and most important rule in effective communication occurs when they develop a willingness to do what they are told. The child's relationship of trust and affection with their parents is critical because it ensures that the child is essentially on the same side with those who are teaching them social and moral lessons.

The child identifies with their parents, be it mother or father, and internalises the values and rules they themselves adhere to. Parents need to remain solid and secure. It may cost you a grey hair or two, but it will pay off with well mannered and well spoken kids who can effectively communicate in the long run.


  • Children's communication needs change over time
  • Set consistent boundaries
  • Practice what you preach
  • Keep the lines of communication open
  • Good communication promotes good manners

About Michelle Worthington

Michelle Worthington is a published Australian author, editor and book reviewer known for her classically elegant, compassionate and unique picture books for children. Her first adult nonfiction book "Practically Single; Managing your Money, your Family and your Life during Divorce" was published in 2012. She is the proud mother of two boys and is passionate about fostering a love of books and promoting the power of words to young children.

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