Communicating well is a foundation element of effective parenting. How can you be a parent to your child without communicating? Whenever there are problems between parent and child, ineffective communication is almost always a contributing factor.

And yet, when you and I were growing up, no one taught us the best ways to listen, give feedback, offer encouragement, and other important aspects of interpersonal communication. Like everyone else, we followed the lead of our own parents, and we picked up all sorts of communication habits “on the street” from our friends. And now, as adults, we have much to learn if we want to interact well with family, friends, and coworkers.

This is why I wrote the book, Connect with Your Kid: Mastering the Top 10 Parent-Child Communication Skills.

The core of the book is ten chapters, one for each skill. Each of the chapters explains the best approach, derived from what experts have been telling us for the past 50 years. Included are step-by-step instructions, descriptive example dialogues, encouragements, tips, and recommendations for additional reading. In other words, the book is a how-to guide. The 10 skills:

  • Listen to Understand
  • Coach Your Child to Think
  • Guide Learning from Experience
  • Get Buy-in for Expectations
  • Offer Encouragement
  • Express Appreciation
  • Give Feedback Constructively
  • Accept Feedback Graciously
  • Engage in Dialogue
  • Resolve Conflict Creatively

Connect with Your Kid also includes chapters that explain what you need to do to replace an old communication habit with a new skill. This is helpful, because acquiring a new skill won’t happen just because you read the chapter and loved it. Like any skill, you’ll have work to do: applying the skill over and over with your child until it feels natural. With practice, practice, and more practice, your brain will eventually rewire itself for the new skill.

The book is unusual because it doesn’t address just one important skill. There are several good books on listening, for example. But this is the first book to be a learning reference for the ten most important parent-child communication skills, including listening.

I’ve been writing about communication skills for over 30 years, in books, articles, assessment systems, and learning programs. While writing How Your Teen Can Grow a Smarter Brain, Conversations with the Wise Uncle, and Conversations with the Wise Aunt, the importance of effective parent-child communication was made clear to me. This book, Connect with Your Kid, is one I’ve been wanting to write for a long time.

The stakes are high. My wish is that after your child is grown and has left home, the bond you share with them is stronger than ever. Achieving this will be no easy task. When it does happen, it will be because the way you interact with your child draws them closer in love, understanding, respect, and trust. This is only possible with effective communication.