How to Foster Healthy Communication with Your Child

Active listening employs a verbal response containing no actual message from the parent but rather a mirroring back of the child’s previous communication.

Parents take the time to:

Look at a child at their eye level. Don’t bend over to talk to a child. Do bend from your knees and stoop down, so your face and body are at the same level as the child.


  • This lets a child know that what they are saying is important to you.
  • It helps you concentrate on what a child is saying.
  • It allows you to view a child’s facial expression. A child’s nonverbal cues uncover critical information about their emotional and social needs, which can be an important part of what your child is trying to tell you, particularly with younger children.

Validate your child’s feelings – If a child says “Timmy made me mad because he pushed me,” then:

Do ask your child:

  • Why they feel that way and let them tell about the event. Let your child express themselves, including feelings of anger or hurt feelings.
  • How they feel about a situation without imposing your opinion. You might be surprised by the response. If a child says, “Timmy pushed me,” a parent might think “Timmy hurt my child” or even suggest to your child, “that must have really hurt your feelings!” … but resist the impulse!
  • It might end up that a child responds positively: “It made me feel good because my friends took up for me,” or “It made me feel good because Timmy jokes around with kids he likes.”
  • Don’t make a global statement like “You should never get mad at anyone” or “Timmy is a nice boy, how could he make you mad?” Or the worst, “you must have done something to make him mad!” This invalidates your child.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a listening ear…or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia