Communication skills: 15 effective activities for your kids [5 Must-try tips]

In a vastly digital world, as we navigate through a school year with online or offline classes, how often have we wondered:

“I want my child to improve their communication skills!”

Yes, it is a tiny nag at the back of our minds.

What is that we parents can do to improve communication in kids?

In this article, we hope to delve into understanding communication skills, how it impacts your child, ways to nurture them, and activities that can help your child to build this essential skill.

Understanding communication

Communication is the ability to express oneself, verbally or non-verbally, listen, and comprehend the other.

Imagine when two people are in a conversation. It is not only about speaking aloud, isn’t it?

Multiple actions are done: active listening, adjusting body language, assessing body language and tone of the other person, assimilating the information shared, introspecting, reacting to the other person’s conversation, etc.

This complex ability takes hold from birth. Babies coo, smile, look at the parents intently, turn towards the speaker, etc.

Thus, communication is the way we interact with ourselves and the world around us. For children, they learn this ability from their parents.

When we parents actively participate in the conversation/give and take with our kids, it helps develop good communication skills.

Importance of teaching communication skills

Communication is a marvellous ability that can mould a child’s personality. This is not necessarily about making a child speak aloud or be social.

When it comes to developing stronger conversations skills, effective communication matters a lot!

It forms the basis for many other key development skills that a child requires throughout their life.

Here is a list:

  • understands self and others
  • nurtures empathy and self-care
  • triggers social and emotional development
  • improves listening skills
  • develops a keen sense of observation
  • learns to self-regulate
  • comprehends the value of pauses
  • understands conversation etiquette such as taking turns, introspection, etc.
  • becomes self-confident and assertive
  • enhances their vocabulary
  • learns to be respectful of others

Communication is essential for a child to have a healthier relationship with self and others.

Often, their manner of expressing themselves with their parents forms the basis for their style and confidence of communication.

Young children are yet to speak, do not have the vocabulary or action to indicate their discomfort. This leads to temper tantrums.

For school-going children, their vocabulary and interaction with the world outside are still developing and their inability to communicate may be displayed as tantrums, frustration, etc.

Thus, it becomes immensely important for us parents to keep an open mind. Patience is the key!

RELATED: 18 Essential Life Skills To Equip Your Child For The Real World

5 Tips for effective communication in kids

1) Be the role model

effective communication skills

Home is where children learn a lot and parents become their first teachers.

Researchers posit that a positive parent-child relationship is marked by nurturing communication and interactions.

They mimic everything their caregivers do in front of them. Being conscious of how you communicate matters!

Good communication skills are learnt through observation, guidance and practice.

There are awkward situations and difficult conversations to have with your kids and these are the instances that can have deeper impacts such as speaking about good touch and bad touch; illnesses; pandemic; bullying; etc.

So, keep communication open for yourself and your child. They should be able to share with you, right?

RELATED: Good Touch Vs Bad Touch: 5 Easy Ways To Educate Your Child

2) Communicate daily

Set aside time every day to communicate with your child. This is a mindful time and so no screens!

When you set aside a conscious time for teaching communication skills to your child, you get to introduce them to a framework for conversations — taking turns, the importance of pauses, not interrupting through words or body language, etc.

Keep it light and open. Yes, your child will need time to work on this.

Most importantly, be aware that each kid speaks at their own pace. There are different ways in which they express themselves — verbally and non-verbally.

Don’t embarrass your child in the public or front of others by correcting their action(s) or conversation. This will impact their manner of communication especially with you.

You can set aside time and explain to them why they shouldn’t have done it. This positively impacts their communication style!

3) Listen to your child

When you actively participate in a conversation with your child, you are bound to find some funny moments too!

This, in a sense, gives them an understanding that they must listen to someone speak, maintain eye contact, and use gestures.

It also shows them they must wait for someone to finish their line before speaking. Most importantly, this would enable them to pay attention to the tone of the speaker too!

Yes, your child will go on a rollercoaster about a subject, go with the flow, and gently direct them whenever there is a pause.

Active listening is foundational to having healthy and respectful communication!

4) Teach about non-verbal cues

Every time you speak to someone and your child interrupts, you hold out a hand but they don’t understand or maybe they do.

Body language is an essential visual cue to having effective communication.

The way a person stands to their facial expressions make for mindful conversations.

These non-verbal cues will enable your child to have good communication skills from a young age.

This can start from the time they are toddlers. You can use non-verbal cue cards too!

5) Conversation role-play

stubborn child

Practice makes your child’s communication better, especially before they step out to converse and socialize with adults and peers in preschools, schools, etc.

When you have different conversations every day, you consciously introduce them to the concept of pause and speak; gesture if you want to speak; observe the non-verbal cues; etc.

This allows young children to comfortably communicate with you and it allows you to nurture or correct their communication.

One of the essentials of good communication is being empathetic.

It opens up the possibility that each speaker has different perspectives. This also enables communication where they are self-aware or are aware of others’ state of mind.

Thus, creating conversations that are more mindful and inculcates active participation.

15 Engaging activities to develop communication skills

1) Show and tell

This is a marvellous activity for young children who have just started to speak or communicate non-verbally.

This activity helps develop vocabulary as well as gives them space to speak, wait for their turn, and listen carefully as well!

This can be a family activity where each of you participates. This can be done along with their playdates as well.

2) Emotion cards

Create cues cards of different emotions. Introduce your child to the emotions. Use these during your communication time.

These help them express themselves, be aware of others’ emotions, and more importantly, learn to identify emotions within a conversation.

3) Picture stories

Draw cue cards with different scenarios or you can make use of picture storybooks. This works for all age groups.

You can start the story and enable your child to continue the stories by speaking, acting, drawing, etc.

This gives them creative space to express what they want to say. Their cognitive and logical reasoning skills are enhanced.

4) Pause and play

Play the music in the background. Tell your child that they can communicate when you pause the tune. This teaches them to patiently listen and speak.

If your child is too young to speak, you can get them to dance or use gestures.

This can be played as a family too, which can help inculcate patience — wait for your turn!

5) Finish the rhyme

Rhymes help kids improve their vocabulary and also develops their listening.

So settle down with your child and sing their favourite rhyme while leaving pauses for them to complete. This enables active listening and completing the rhyme.

This is a good way to inculcate pauses in conversation.

Wheels on the bus go __…

6) Guess the gesture

This is a wonderful activity to introduce and reinforce gestures that are part of communication. Non-verbal cues are essential and so, attention is required.

Write down different gestures and enact them to your child and ask them to name the gestures.

As they become familiar with different gestures, you can ask them to enact or share when they will use them.

It is an essential way to introduce your child to create their boundaries, which are essential in a long run.

effective communication skills

7) Mirror my action

This activity is a wonderful way to teach your child about body language gestures.

When speaking with others, eye contact is essential and this activity requires your child to follow your actions.

Your child and you can copy each other’s actions.

8) Start, stop

This activity enhances active listening. This can be a family game.

This is suitable for children who have begun to speak and can have ample vocabulary.

Choose a topic. Explain to your child when you call out ‘Start’, they can speak and when you call out ‘Stop’, they are to become quiet.

You can pair up with your child and observe how they communicate.

9) Play telephone

This is definitely a group activity that can be played at a birthday party or perhaps with all the family members.

Settle down in a circle and you can whisper a word/sentence with the person on your left. They share the word with the next person.

This goes on till the person on your right gets to know what is shared and say it out loud. Is the word/sentence shared correct or has it changed?

This activity allows for active listening and loads of laughter!

Depending on your child’s age make it complex.

10) Charades time

Wouldn’t it be nice to explore non-verbal communication through charades?

Charades require communication via action and not through speech. Thus, write down different scenarios or emotions and enable your child to act out those cues.

This can be a group activity where each of you enacts. You can add everyday situations too!

If you are getting your child ready for preschool or school, you can add activities related to their daily tasks!

11) Everyday conversations

This activity is a great way to teach children about politeness, listening, and even expressing themselves. You can set aside time each day to do this activity.

This activity works for kids of all ages. If your child is too young to speak, you can talk to them about what they would in an everyday scenario. Associate an action for set words and phrases such as thank you, bye, etc.

If your child can communicate then, you give your child an everyday scenario — going to a shop, meeting a new classmate, etc. — and both of you can enact it. This improves their conversation skills as well.

12) Describe game

This activity works from a young age too. You can increase the complexity depending on your child’s age group.

Show an object to your child and ask them to describe it. For younger children, it could be the colour, shape, and the name of the object.

For children who have begun to write, speak, or doodle, you can encourage them to describe the object in detail.

This activity helps develop their awareness, assertiveness, and confidence in communication.

13) On a page

This activity is more suitable for older children who have begun to read and write.

Your child can write, draw, doodle, make a flow chart about a specific everyday scenario. It could be the use of just word clouds too.

This can be a parent-child activity where you can observe how your child communicates. It is about having the space to communicate.

If your child likes to speak, then encourage to write the words and then converse.

14) Fast and slow

This activity is about observing how a person communicates. It is a great way to teach your child how each person has their style of communication.

Tongue Twisters For Kids

You can give your child a simple sentence or perhaps even a tongue twister. They can repeat after you at a normal pace a few times.

Then, when you say:

  • “Slow”, they say the sentence as slowly as possible.
  • “Fast”, they say the sentence as quickly as possible.

Have fun and explain to your child what happens when someone speaks hurriedly. You can also include emotions such as happiness, joy, sadness, etc.

15) Story Tag

This is a group activity where active listening and waiting for a turn is encouraged.

Settle down as a family and start a story. Each person adds only one line. They must include the line that the previous person said.

Eg: If you start the story: “There was once a small girl who liked to play in the garden.” The next person would say: “There was once a small girl who liked to play in the garden. Each day she would say hi to all the flowers, insects, frogs, trees, fruits, and everything else there.”

The game will continue until a story is formed. You can use picture cue cards too!

RELATED: Storytelling: Incredible Ways To Tell Great Stories To Your Child

Conclusion: Effective communication skills = confidence of a child

Good communication is the key to developing a child’s overall personality.

This particular skill goes a long way in defining their behaviour, characteristics, confidence, awareness.

In short, it is a skill that can nurture your child to become a wholesome individual.

It starts at home with us, parents!

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