Talking and Listening to Preschoolers



Does your preschooler have a lot to talk about? Does it feel like they’re talking all the time?

Preschoolers love to tell stories. Are you bored to bits hearing your child tell the same story over and over…. AND OVER AGAIN? Do you know when your preschooler repeats ideas and stories it helps them process what’s going on in their world?

Preschoolers want to talk about everything and anything as their new language skills are coming together for them, and at the same time, they are constantly fascinated by the world around them. So what’s a parent to do?

Talking with your kiddos is a two way street. It’s about talking with them AND hearing what they have to say. Listening is just as important as talking when it comes to your kids sharing their thoughts, feelings, and ideas with you.

When you stop what you’re doing and give your child your full attention whenever you can it shows your child you’re listening. When you get down on their level and make eye contact it sends the message that they’re important to you and what they are thinking and saying are important too.

This is especially important when you need to answer a tough question, or talk to your kids about a difficult situation, or have a conversation about something that is bothering or upsetting your child.

Effective communication with your preschooler (or kids of any age) can be so hard!

Here are a few strategies to keep in mind for your parent-child conversations:

  1. Be aware of your triggers and monitor and regulate your own emotions. Be mindful of not letting your fears, worry, irritation or frustration get in the way of a good conversation with your child.
  2. Honesty really is the best policy. Keep conversations age appropriate and simple but keep things real.
  3. Validate Feelings. Let your kids know you understand how they are feeling if you’re having an emotional conversation. When children’s emotions are validated they feel understood and they feel safe. Two important requirements for healthy and open communication.
  4. Use positive language. Think about the way you talk to your kids. Is it with thought and consideration? Eliminate words that may be ridiculing (“You’re being a big baby”), blaming (“You never listen- that’s why this happened”), or shaming (“I was so ashamed of you today”). Talk to your kids with the same consideration as if you were talking to a friend.
  5. Ask open ended questions. These are questions your preschooler can’t answer with one word answers. These questions invite your kiddos to say more and share more about their thoughts and feelings.
  6. Keep it simple and check for understanding. As parents we like our words and sometimes (make that many times!) we waffle on too long, or what we’re trying to say is too complicated for them to understand. If your child isn’t understanding your message, try to rephrase. Be more careful with your choice of words and use shorter, simpler sentences.

Remember, you do not have to handle all your conversations perfectly. What’s important is that with effective, honest and authentic communication your kids will always know you love them, are there to listen to them and help them, no matter what. It’s through this loving relationship that conversations happen, and children thrive!

If you can relate to any of this information or if you find yourself struggling to parent differently, or need support implementing new positive communication strategies, you are not alone. Change is hard work and it takes time. There are no magic quick fixes in parenting and there’s no short cuts to a more connected relationship with your child.

If you want to learn more about how I can help you parent in a way that promotes and develops changes in yourself, your child, and your family, or if you want to schedule a free phone conversation to see if my work is right for your family, please email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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My work is dedicated to supporting parents and early childhood educators in understanding and reducing challenging behavior in young children at home and in the preschool classroom.

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