Effective Communication

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Effective Communication as a Parent

If you struggle with communication as a parent, you have come to the right place. At Smarter Parenting, we recognize that many parents struggle with communicating with children. Because of this, we provide helpful online resources that allow for more effective communication between you and your children.

We believe that effective communication doesn’t just come from talking. Our decades of experience have helped us develop a six-step process for effective communication with your children that explores the full range of how to communicate.

Begin by looking at your child and listen intently to what they say. Once your child finishes speaking, describe what you understood using their own words as much as possible. Be sure to ask your child if you accurately described what they said so that they can correct you if necessary.

Then, calmly share your thoughts and ask your child to repeat what they heard. Confirm or correct their statements and begin the process of Decision Making.

Improve your communication as a parent with Smarter Parenting. Explore and share our resources below.

Where to begin

The skill of Effective Communication can be fun to learn. Here is a list of things to do when learning/teaching this skill.

  1. Watch the lesson first and memorize the steps to the skill.
  2. Print out the steps to Effective Communication and put it somewhere you will see for easy reference.
  3. Visit the Activities and Games section and decide on a game that you think will engage your child.
  4. At a neutral time, use the steps of Effective Communication to talk to your child about learning the skill. Decide if engaging them with an activity first or showing them the lesson would be best and begin there.
  5. Practice the skill as often as possible. Use multiple games and activities if needed to reinforce the skill.
  6. Continue to practice until the child has it down. It may be helpful to break the skill up into small sections if your child is having trouble learning all the steps.

Suggestions for parents when teaching this skill

  • Remain calm.
  • Expect that your child will struggle to remember the steps. That is why it is essential to print out the steps and place them in a visible place.
  • Practice with the printout of the steps. As your child gets more comfortable, remove the printout until they can follow the steps by memory.
  • Make the practice fun and practice as much as possible.
  • Be aware of your child’s limits. If you need to break up the learning of the steps to the skill, that is alright. Help them learn and master what they can and move to another step as needed. You know what is best for your child.

Download the steps to Effective Communication and place it where it can be easily seen.

Help & Activities

Research Articles about Effective Communication

Don’t take our word for it. Research shows that Effective Communication is powerful a person can develop to become successful. Successful parents know how to communicate with their children in positive ways. These articles give more information into the science of Effective Communication.

Communication for Effective Parenting discusses the importance of Effective Communication skill for families. Taken from an article from the University of Arkansas for Medical Science.

Communication and Professional Relationships with children, young people and adults. Taken from Pearson Schools and Colleges, United Kingdom.

Effective Communication is important everywhere, even in the workplace. Taken from American Management Association.

Smarter Parenting blog posts

5 ways to make difficult conversations easier

5 tips for making sure your children actually here you

4 communication mistakes parents make

5 ways to connect with your moody teen

How to talk to your child’s teacher

How to get your children to listen to you

Teach your child to listen with these 3 steps

3 ways to make talking with your children fun

Communication Crafts

Improve communication with conversation starters

Monthly conversations starters: July

Monthly conversations starters: August

Monthly conversation starters: September

Monthly conversation starters: October

Monthly converstation starters: November

Monthly converstation starters: December

Thanksgiving: A great time to get talking

The following activities can be helpful in teaching the skill of Effective Communication. You can access some additional crafts and ideas for Effective Communication by clicking HERE.

Communication ball

How to use this activity

This is a simple game and a great conversation starter. Use the Effective Communication steps while playing this game to help you and your child learn each step.

Instructions: Write a selection of questions on a ball. Roll the ball to a family member. Have them answer the question under their thumb. You can download the questions, geared for children or teens, below.

Download the Effective Communication Conversation Ball Starters for Children HERE.

Download the Effective Communication Conversation Ball Starters for Teens HERE.

Family juggling

How to use this activity

This activity is simple. Each member of the family is passes a ball to another member of the family until every member of the family has touched the ball before going to the original person. This pattern is followed throughout the game. Once you are able to pass the ball to every member of the family without it falling another ball is introduced to the activity. The first person then begins with one ball and when that ball is being passed around the next ball begins circulation. This activity can be used with the skill of Goal Setting as well. The ultimate goal is to increase the numbers of balls introduced to the group and “juggling” them successfully. The metaphor of communication requires a sender and receiver. It is also a good way to introduce the importance of being “gentle” and “kind” during communication.

Materials needed: 3-4 balls. You can also substitute the balls for bean bags and toss them rather than roll them.

Build a structure

How to use this activity

This activity focuses on the importance of listening when communicating. You can use this activity with Jenga blocks, regular blocks or even using different shapes that you cut out of paper. You can use just about anything in your house.

Materials Needed: blocks (or anything your child can use to create a structure).

Would you rather

 How to use this activity

This activity is easy to play and presents simple questions that can help you explore your child’s thought process. To use the skill of Effective Communication with this activity, follow up responses from your children by asking them to explain their response in more detail and repeating back what they said for clarification.

Materials needed: Would You Rather questions. Download the Would You Rather Questions HERE.

Puzzle game

How to use this activity

This activity is largely used for the skills of Problem Solving and Working Together. However, it can also be used to talk about the importance of communication.

Materials needed: a 24 piece puzzle and a timer.

Bottle rocket activity

How to use this activity

This is a fun activity for a child that is older and likes science or rockets. Cameron explains how to do this activity and explains how you can use the skill of Effective Communication to help your child.

Materials needed: empty 2 liter bottle, 2 cups of water, 1 cup of vinegar, one board with a screw that is at least 2 inches long that is embedded into it, cork wrapped with a little bit of duct tape, paper towel and two Tablespoons of baking soda.


Neisha explains how the Effective Communication helped to avoid power struggles.


Peggy shares her thoughts regarding the importance of hearing children and responding to them on their level.

Jay and Laura

Jay and Laura talk about the essential role of listening in Effective Communication. They also share the best times to engage in communicating with children.

Sue and Keith

Helping children develop into responsible adults.

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SkillsEffective Communication