How to Teach Verbal Communication Skills to Kids

In such an advanced, civilized society, this should not be considered a conversation.

“hey haha”
“what ru doing 2morrow”
“idk y”
“dunno haha”

 . . . and kids can do this for hours on and off without ever really saying anything meaningful.

The quickest way to teach your kids verbal communication skills is to ban them from texting. If they want to talk with their friends, they will have to pick up a phone and talk.

Start out with 2-3 days. They will probably complain about it and give you a hard time but stick to your guns. You might be surprised that kids actually do have voices and more importantly, can learn how to use them. Girls seem to have a harder time giving up texting since they have been the more chatty sex for generations but many boys these days feel even more awkward having casual conversations over the phone.

Texting may be the preferred choice these days for kids and adults but it is not helping with human interaction, verbal communication skills, or self-confidence. Some kids cannot even have a face-to-face conversation and will refuse to pick up a phone even though it’s connected to them constantly like a pacifier. How can this be any good?

One parent I spoke with came up a unique idea to encourage her child to learn how to use a phone for speaking. She bought an old-fashioned rotary dial type phone online. (You could use any regular phone but this added a bit of history and took the exercise to a whole new level.) Then she made a list of family and friends her daughter knew. Beside each name was their primary phone number. Every day the girl had to go down the list and call at least one person AND have a conversation with them. If she got voice mail, she could not leave a message. Instead, she had to try the next person on the list until she reached someone to talk with. The idea was so brilliant, I wish I had thought of it.

Before texting and the digital explosion, people were much better at communicating but it’s not too late to learn something new, or old as it were. Whether you try this phone exercise or another method of teaching verbal communication skills, there are valuable basics that kids can learn. Some of the benefits are:

  1. They can learn proper phone etiquette.
  2. They will learn to understand people better as it’s much easier to tell what someone really means when you can hear their voice and emotions. It can be very confusing if someone texts something negative or rude but yet adds a smiley face.
  3. They don’t have to hide behind texting or Facebook chatting.
  4. Verbal communication can build self-confidence.
  5. Talking isn’t as scary as they thought once they get used to it. Just remember, it will take time and you, as a parent, may even need to do some coaching prior to a phone call.
  6. A conversation can consist of more than just emoticons, “haha’s,” and cryptic abbreviations.
  7. Talking on the phone or better  yet, in person, builds good listening skills as well as showing respect to others. It’s too easy to multi-task and ignore the other person while texting.
  8. Face-to-face communication will become easier in all situations.
  9. Their language skills will improve.
  10. It could encourage their friends to use verbal communication more.

By teaching good verbal communication skills, we will cultivate and educate a generation who will function better socially, intellectually, and emotionally.

Communication is the cornerstone of any relationship. Whether it’s between friends, spouses, teachers-students, employer-employees, or even between countries, when communication breaks down, our relationships deteriorate and our lives suffer. Schools do not have the time or budget, and many don’t think it is important enough to teach personal communication skills. That leaves it up to the parents.

Expect resistance at first but keep at it. Anything worth changing or improving will take time and effort. Teaching our kids necessary life skills is important for everyone now, and in the future.

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4 Responses to How to Teach Verbal Communication Skills to Kids

  1. cndesigns says:

    Too bad we have to worry about “teaching” face-to-face, verbal/personal communication skills at all.

  2. Off Duty Mom says:

    Love the advice here. My three-year old is a little too eager to answer and use the phone, so perhaps I should harness that enthusiasm!

    • I would probably have to agree with you. They have a lifetime of using electronics way too much. I’d say to encourage more creative play at this age than let them use electronic toys. Kids don’t seem to have the imaginations like we did when we were kids because everything is done for them. It’s pretty sad in a way. But then I’m old-fashioned too. :)

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