Parent-Child Communication

Communication skills in practice

Heading: Communication Skills in Practice

Miss Siu: Effective parent-child communication is “two-way” and interactive. The following four skills can encourage children's participation. First is “Face to Face”. Let's see how parents adjust to their children height to get “face to face”.

Sub-heading: Face to Face

Scene: Father Ah Kin kneels down on the floor mat with his son, plays stacking rings and talks to him.

Kin: Woop, Woop!

Miss Siu: This father kneels down on the floor so his son can see his expression clearly.

Kin: You do this one, good!

Sub-heading: Face to Face

Scene: Mom Ah Shan and baby Alvin are standing at school bus station.

Shan: Alvin, you want to play with your sister's school bag?

Scene: Mother Ah Shan picks up Alvin and talks to Alvin face to face.

Miss Siu: This mother uses another approach. She lifts her son up before speaking to him. She can see his facial expression clearly.

Shan: Sister carries her own school bag and this smaller one is for you.

Sub-heading: Face to Face

Scene: Ah Kin holds Yau Yau's hand and walks into a fruit store together with Ah Ying. Ah Ying picks up an orange.

Ying: Yau Yau, your favourite oranges!

Scene: Yau Yau is looking at the bananas. Ah Kin squats down, picks up a bunch of bananas and talks to Yau Yau face to face.

Kin: Oh! They smell good!

Miss Siu: Dad squats down before speaking to his daughter so they can see each other. See how happy they are.

Sub-heading: Let Child Take the Lead

Miss Siu: Second, “Let Child Take the Lead”. Let's see how parents first observe their children then follow their interests and play together.

Scene: Mom Ah Ying and baby Yau Yau sit on floor mat at home and playing with toy rings and balls.

Ying: Baby, shall we play this? Woo! Okay, your turn.

Miss Siu: The mother wants her daughter to play with the toy ring but the girl prefers playing ball. So mum plays ball with her instead!

Ying: Throw, let's throw the ball.

Miss Siu: The mother also teaches her the verb “throw”.

Ying: Woo! Rolls away.

Miss Siu: She also said “rolls away!” to describe what just happened.

Sub-heading: Let Child Take the Lead

Scene: Father Ah Kin, mother Ah Ying and baby Yau Yau are in fruit store. Yau Yau is touching the banana.

Kin: They're yummy!

Miss Siu: In this video, the girl is interested in bananas so the father follows her interest and encourages her to smell them.

Kin: Wow bananas! They smell and taste good. You want to try? Um!

Miss Siu: He took this chance to introduce words related to bananas too.

Sub-heading: Talk about What is Happening

Miss Siu: The third skill is to “Talk about What is Happening”. While playing, the parents describe what they are doing and use actions and words at the same time. Let's see how they do it!

Scene: Father Ah Kin sits on floor mat with his son playing stacking rings and is giving a toy duck to him.

Kin: Hold the ducky. Ducky, put it there. Here is a hole you can put it through. Try it.

Miss Siu: They were playing stacking rings. When Dad held the ducky up, he said “ducky”. When he taught his son to place it, he talked while he demonstrated: “Here's ducky, put it there! Here's a hole, try it” to help the child understand what he meant.

Sub-heading: Talk about What is Happening

Scene: Father Ah Kam and baby Jo Jo are waiting for the lift. Jo Jo tries to press the lift button. Ah Kam squats down and talks to Jo Jo face to face.

Kam: Hey! So sweetheart do you want to press the button?

Scene: Jo Jo nods her head, father Ah Kam picks her up and shows her how to press the button.

Kam: Darling, it glows. Look! It's a “button”! You want to press it?

Scene: Jo Jo stretches out her arm and presses the lift button.

Miss Siu: When dad knew his daughter wanted to press the lift button, he pressed the button and said something related to it: It glows, it's a “button”.

Sub-heading: Talk about What is Happening

Scene: Father Ah Kin, mother Ah Ying and baby Yau Yau are in the fruit store. Yau Yau picks up a lemon. Ah Kin squats down.

Yau: Ooah!

Kin: This is a lemon. It's sour. Yau Yau, do you like it? “Lemon”, lemons are sour. Do you like it? Um!

Miss Siu: Dad noticed his daughter was interested in the lemon. So he took the chance to teach her the name of the fruit and the characteristics of a lemon.

Sub-heading: Respond More and Praise More

Miss Siu:  Fourth is “Respond More and Praise More”. Let's see how the parents use simple words to respond to and praise their children so as to increase their interest to participate.

Scene: Mother Ah Shan and a baby are sitting on floor mat and playing with some toy foods and cooker.

Shan: Put this in okay? Yes! Yes! Well done!

Miss Siu: The mother was playing with the cooking set with her child, she guided him to put the food into the cooker. When the child followed her act, she praised his attempt.

Sub-heading: Respond More and Praise More

Scene: Father Ah Kin and baby Alvin sit on the floor mat and playing with the stacking rings.

Kin: Put it there! That's it! Wonderful!

Miss Siu: When the father and child play stacking rings, he often praises his child for his effort.

Kin: Come on, put it there. Woop!

Alvin: Ah!

Kin: You don't like it? This one?

Miss Siu: Later, the child becomes impatient and screams. The father thought he'd lost interest in stacking rings so he voiced his thought as a response to the child
“You don't like it?”. Then he suggested another way to play with the stacking rings
“This one?”.

Sub-heading: Integrating Communication Skills in Play

Miss Siu: We have just watched how to use the four parent-child communication skills. Next, let's see how I combine these skills together when playing with children.

Scene: Miss Siu, a child and a mother sit on a floor mat and play with toy food and knife.

Sub-heading: Face to Face

Miss Siu: Good! What else do I have to cut? You see, what is it? What is it? It's bread.

Child: Bread.

Miss Siu: Bread, shall we cut the bread? Yes?

Child: Yes!

Sub-heading: Talk about What is Happening

Scene: Miss Siu is encouraging the child to cut the toy bread using the toy knife.

Miss Siu: Okay! Let's cut. Cut. Take the knife. Hold it, hold the knife like this. Hold the bread. One. Two. Three. Cut. Oh no! It's so difficult! Cut, cut. And it's done! Cut it again! Ready? One two three cut. Oh Grrrr it's so hard! Oh! You did it!

Sub-heading: Let Child Take the Lead

Miss Siu: One more? Yes, let's do it once more. Let me hold it! Cut. Cut. Oh! Not yet. Try again. Let me help you this time. Done! You did it! Well done you!

Scene: Miss Siu and another child sit on floor mat and play with a toy teapot with its cover on.

Miss Siu: There's sound. Open it!

Sub-heading: Respond More

Scene: The child gives the toy teapot to Miss Siu. Miss Siu takes off the cover and let child see the toy strawberry inside the teapot.

Miss Siu: You want me to open it? OK.

Child: Auntie.

Miss Siu: Open it. Let me open it. It's opened!

Sub-heading: Talk about What is Happening

Miss Siu: A strawberry! Quick! Cover it. It's gone! It's gone! Put it in. Put it in. Oh!

Sub-heading: Praise More

Scene: Miss Siu and the child are clapping hands to show praise.

Miss Siu: Well done! Yes, well done!

Sub-heading: Common Questions While Communicating with Child – How to talk about what is happening?

Narrator: Talking about what is happening will benefit children's development. Parents may ask how they can do it

Sub-heading: Talk about What is happening

Scene: Miss Siu, a child and a mother sit on floor mat and play with toy food and knife.

Miss Siu: Wow! A fish. You see?

Narrator: We can use both actions and words to describe what the child is doing.

Scene: The child takes the fish and break it into 2 halves.

Miss Siu: Fish, goo goo goo! Break it! Wow, it's done!

Sub-heading: Describe Child's Action

Narrator: And your own action.

Sub-heading: Describe Your Own Action

Scene: Miss Siu take out a toy knife and encourage the child to cut the fish and then stick the pieces together.

Miss Siu: Let's get a knife to cut it. See whether auntie has a knife. Take the knife and cut. We'll stick it together. Then let me place a chopping board here.
Get ready? One Two Three.

Narrator: Remember, you have to pause and allow her to respond.

Sub-heading: Pause When Appropriate

Miss Siu: It's pulled apart! Hold it. Want to stick it? Stick again? Together? OK then, here.

Narrator: So, the child has a chance to take a turn and respond.

Miss Siu: One Two Three Cut

Sub-heading: Common Questions While Communicating with Child – What to do if the child loses interest after playing for a while?

Narrator: Parents may also ask what if the child loses interest after playing for a while. First, we should check whether the toy or game chosen suits the child's ability. Children may lose interest in very difficult or overly simple games. Then we can try the following ways to attract their interest. For example, by making some sound.

Sub-heading: Making Sound to Arouse Interest

Scene: Miss Siu and a child sit on the floor mat and play with a toy teapot.  She makes sound by patting and shaking the toy teapot to attract the child.

Miss Siu: Pull it open. Here you go. Here. Look here. Open it. Wow! That's good!

Sub-heading: Using Action to Arouse Interest

Scene: Miss Siu, another child and a mother sit on floor mat, play with a toy fish and a toy teapot. Miss Siu holds out the fish and pretends that it is swimming.

Miss Siu: Wow! It's a fish, you see?

Narrator: An action

Miss Siu: Fish, Goo goo goo goo goo goo

Scene: Child takes the fish and breaks it

Miss Siu: Oh no! It's broken.

Scene: Miss Siu and the other child playing with the toy teapot, knife and foods.

Miss Siu: Take the knife, take it and cut it. Here. Cut it. Wow!

Narrator: Play in different ways. Like with a toy teapot, apart from making tea with it, we can also use it as a box for putting things in and taking things out to arouse children's interest.

Sub-heading: Different Ways to Play to Arouse Interest

Miss Siu: Oh! See? What is it?

Narrator: If you notice that the child has lost interest or becomes irritated, don't push them.

Miss Siu: Alright! Let's stop here then.

Sub-heading: Realistic Expectation

Narrator: Helping children to grow up is full of joy and challenges. Each child has different abilities and developmental pace. Some may be more advanced in certain areas but slightly behind in others. Parents need to understand and accept the individual differences and variations in progress. Sometimes, even though you have adopted effective methods, their performance may not progress as you expected. If you still have doubts, you can seek advice from Maternal and Child Health Centre or other medical professionals. In conclusion, as long as you follow the children's learning pace and guide them patiently they will grow up happily in a relaxing atmosphere.

Sub-heading: The Department of Health owns the copyright of this digital video. This digital video is produced solely for non-commercial use. It should not be rented, sold or otherwise used for profit-making purposes. Produced in 2019 (English version)

Children are still self-centred and lack in verbal expression ability at this stage. Your child may seem to ignore your instructions if you give instructions to him without taking into account his interest. Effective communication skills will be needed to achieve two-way interactive communication with your child.

Effective skills Remarks
Stay face-to-face You can bend down or sit on the floor to adapt yourself to your child's height.
Let your child take the lead Follow your child's interest and he will be more willing to communicate with you.
Talk about things happening within your child's sight Describe names, the use or properties of objects and actions of people at anytime, anywhere to your child to enhance his language and cognitive development.
Respond and praise Respond to your child's sounds, expressions and actions by imitating or guessing his meanings. Praise any of your child's responses.