Life skills

Communication Skills for the 21st Century

I have a shy child and an outgoing child and one that is in between. Sometimes they have trouble letting their needs be known-in an appropriate way. Communication is more than just speaking. It is speaking, gestures, signs, dance, drama, active listening, and written. It comes in many forms-and we should encourage each type. Why? Communication is a vital life skill that will prepare your child for school and life! Most importantly, we as adults should be good role models of communicating correctly.

Why are good communication skills important for children?

  • They help children to solve problems better.
  • For maintaining successful interpersonal skills.
  • To express oneself and reveal ones own needs and feelings.
  • They help one to develop self-confidence.
  • They are the building blocks for healthy relationships.
  • They help children learn and understand new things.
  • They encourage following directions, remembering things, staying on topic and elaborating ideas.
  • These skills also aid in having a conversation, talking in a group, taking turns and presenting a viewpoint.
  • When a child can communicate his needs, challenging behaviors decrease. Some behavior problems are a result of a child being unable to express his needs.
  • They prepare children for life and future jobs as well.

How can I help a child communicate better?

Help him to do any of the following:

  • Write a note or letter to someone-then mail.
  • Make a phone call.
  • Send an e-mail or text message.
  • Design a costume or dance move-then put on a show!
  • Make a video of himself on an iPad.
  • Listen! Active listening encourages thoughtful feedback and engaged converstaions.
  • Encourage using “an inside voice” as opposed to screaming or tugging to get someones attention.
  • Ask more questions.
  • Think before speaking.
  • Take your time and don’t rush through what you want to say or write.
  • Teach a peer or younger child or sibling something.
  • Eliminate distractions, like the t.v, cell phone, computer and video games.

What Are Some Ways to Encourage Communication for Children with Special Needs?

  • There are various apps that allow children to type what they want to say.
  • Software, such as BoardMaker, contains many printables for parents and teachers to make ABA type cards that allow children to point to their need or want. Picture schedules can also be made with these.
  • Social stories are available online and in larger bookstores, which allow a parent or teacher to teach and read about how a child can communicate.
  • Give choices instead of demands. For example: do you want to pick up the blocks or do you want to put away the crayons?

For more detailed information about the why, process and how’s of communication, please visit the following sources.


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