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Strategies to Strengthen Parent-Child Connection through Communication

The way parents communicate with children has a direct impact on a parent-child relationship.

A child needs to feel safe, secure, and understood to build a strong bond with their caregivers.

Strong parent-child relationship fosters higher self-confidence and strengthens cognitive, social,

and emotional skills. This article explores how parental communication patterns affect a

children’s nervous system regulation and skill development while providing practical tips on

improving communication with verbal and nonverbal responses to strengthen a parent-child


The Importance of Effective Communication

Effective communication between a parents and children is crucial for building trust,

understanding, and enhancing learning opportunities. The manner in which a parent

communicates with their child can positively or negatively impact the relationship, contributing

to children’s emotional well-being and skill development. A favorite quote to consider is “an

escalated adult cannot regulate a dysregulated child.” When someone is emotionally

overwhelmed (i.e. dysregulated), their communication tends to be less effective, potentially

causing negative impacts on those around them.

Tips to Improve Effective Parent-Child Communication

Active Listening & Validation

Active listening and validating children’s feelings and emotions positively impact their

responses and emotional development. Active listening ensure children feel heard and

understood, while validation helps them feel connected and safe.


Your child says or does:

You say or do:

“I can’t do this!”

“I hear you feel like you can’t do this task. It must feel tough.”

Yelling and crying

“I can see you feel upset right now.”

“My sister is so mean!”

“I hear you say that your sister is so mean. I

saw her snatch the toy from you—I can see

that it might have made you feel very mad.”

Practicing Mindful Communication

Mindful communication involves being aware of how we are communicating and interacting

with our children, including the verbal and nonverbal cues. Misinterpretation of our language

can lead to unintended negative impacts, especially for our neurodiverse children.

For example, saying “Don’t eat all those sweets” might be perceived as “Mom thinks I eat too

much and I’m fat,” despite the intention being to monitor sugar intake for health reasons.

Nonverbal language also plays a crucial role, as other may have difficulty interpreting body

language signals. For instance, if your child is trying connect with you while you are on your

phone and you respond with “Not right now,” it can lead to feelings of disconnection. Instead,

try to put down your phone and connect with your child. If immediate engagement isn’t

possible, briefly explain the reason. For example, “Mommy is talking to Aunt Suzie right now. I

see you need my attention too. Please give me a few more minutes and then we can play

together. How about you get a game set up or create a new game for us to play?”

More Examples of Communication Impact

Parental Language/Behavior

Child Perception

Parent on phone when child seeks attention.

“Mommy/ daddy does not love me.”

Feelings of loneliness and seclusion.

Parent walking away when child talks.

“Mommy/ daddy does not care.” “They are not listening to me.”

“Get away from me and go to your room!”

“Mommy/ daddy does not love me.” “I am a bad kid.” “I can’t do anything right.” “My feelings are not valid.”

Creating a Safe and Judgment-Free Space

To foster connection, it is essential to create a safe and judgement-fee space. This compliments

active listening and validation, teaching children that their emotions and feelings are valid.

While the actions (e.g. hitting, saying unkind words, yelling) that stem from these feelings

aren’t always acceptable, it is crucial to limit judgement and critique. Instead, focus on making

your child feel safe, then guide them on how to respond differently in future situations. When

children feel safe, their nervous system regulation improves, increasing the likelihood they will

come to you with future problems and increase effective skills.

Conflict Resolution and Problem-Solving

Children often exhibit behaviors in response to triggers or problems. To an observing adult, it

may not appear to be a “big problem” but to the child experiencing it the problem feels

impactful. Assisting them with conflict resolution and problem-solving teaches them how to

handle challenges independently in the future. Working together on these skills helps to

strengthen the parent-child connection, demonstrating that caregivers are they’re to teach and

guide rather than shame of invalidate. Children who are emotionally dysregulated cannot

effectively problem-solve. Co-regulating with your child helps them reach a state where they

can learn, solve problems, and grow.

Impact of Communication and Connection on Behaviors

Children need connection, a sense of safety, and validation. As adults, we have the

responsibility to control our own behavior, stating with our own self-awareness. Being mindful

of our language, responses, and interactions with children is crucial. Children are in a constant

state of learning and seeking connection with others. Developmentally, they may struggle to

regulate, solve problems, or process language accurately on their own. Therefore, it is up to us,

as adults, to be aware of the impact of our own language and communication with children has

on their learning and development.

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