How To Talk to Children Effectively

Classroom discipline begins with your approach to children and how you talk to them, so they listen to what you say. There are tips and techniques to achieve this, and by taking the following approach, you’ll have their undivided attention.

Make Eye Contact

Talking down to children makes them feel small and insecure. Drop to their level, and look them in the eye during one-to-one conversations. This will help them focus, and it endorses positive body language. It also breaks down barriers.

Use Their Name

Calling a child by their name is a sure-fire way to grab attention. Begin with their name when you start a sentence and always be polite when using names to engage with the child. You can say, “Billy, would you read for me please?” as an example, and speak to them this way to make the child feel like they are doing something important for you.

Create Simple Sentence Structures

Younger children respond better to shorter questions. Therefore, keep things simple by using small sentences with one-syllable words, and look for signs of confusion when you speak. If they start staring into the distance or have a glazed expression on their face, you are over-complicating things.

Turn a Negative into a Positive

Instead of saying, “Stop running inside,” you can switch this around and say something like, “Running is for outside and walking is for inside,” making the situation positive instead of negative. It’s good to give children other alternatives instead of saying, “Do this or that.”

Give a Choice

Children like to be offered choices. For example, you could say, “Would you prefer to paint first, or read a book?” This way they get a choice and still complete the tasks you wanted them too.

Make it Clear

When asking a child to do something, begin by saying, “I want you to…” so they are clear what you are asking them. Children want to please, but don’t always respond well to orders, so this is a useful alternative, and it makes everything nice and clear.

Use the ‘When’ and ‘Then’ Tactic

A firm but practical way to get a child to do something is to tell them, “When you stop talking, then we can all watch the film.” This provides the child with a choice, and instead of it being an order, it becomes more of an instruction.

Understand Their Age

Of course speaking to children is different than chatting with adults. Their level of understanding will be less, and any instructions you give them should reflect this. Take this into consideration as you speak to them. Instead of giving them impossible questions they can’t answer such as, “Why have you done that?” Sit down with them and say something like, “Let’s talk about this,” so they understand what they did wrong.

 Deal with Tantrums

You can’t reason with a child when they are in the midst of a full-blown tantrum. Respond calmly if they start hollering, and the more they shout, the softer you reply. Calming methods work well in this situation. Become a listener, and let the tantrum pass naturally for a peaceful outcome.

Keep reinforcing the positives

Young children need constant reminders to remember what you want them to do. Therefore, try not to stress if you have to mention something a few times before anything happens, this is just natural behaviour. It’s fine to repeat instructions to young children.

There are many techniques you can use to talk to a child effectively. We know this at World Class Teachers, and we have a wealth of teaching roles available for you, so find out more about them and contact us today or call to speak to us on +44 (0)208 579 4501.

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