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How to Teach Your Kids to Speak With Confidence

Photograph by Twenty20

At work, I teach people how to communicate with confidence and style, how to convey their passions and strengths in a professional way, and how to be heard by busy executives. Then, I go home, and I do the exact opposite.

The other day, while talking to my one-year old, I noticed that my speech was riddled with all sorts of deadly communications sins: I speak in a sing-song voice, ask a lot of questions, and use inappropriate inflections at every turn. In short, if my son learns to speak like me, it will take a lot of my workshops to turn it around later in life!

And so I decided to implement the following techniques to teach my kid better communications from the ground up. Have a look and see if they might work for you, and feel free to share your favorite communication tips in the comments.

Stop Asking Questions

Some questions are appropriate, such as: "Do you need to pee?" and "Where are your pants?"

Others, not so much. Think about the many times you've asked your baby if they are a cute baby, if those are their toes or if they want to eat, when clearly, they are famished and waiting for you to stop asking silly questions so they can get some food!

The use of excessive questions is often linked with a passive, insecure mode of communication, so it's important to teach kids to ask questions only when they actually have them.

RELATED: 2 Questions That Get Kids Talking

Pick out the Pejoratives

Pejoratives, or belittling words, are the scourge of our society!

Ok, maybe that was a little harsh, but it got your attention so much more than saying: "Pejoratives are just a little annoying, don't you think?"

These words tend to seep into our everyday communications and weaken our arguments.

"I feel" and "I think" are two of the biggest culprits, though in this case, I would make the exception if you are having a discussion about actual feelings or thoughts. If you're pointing out a fact, such as "daddy's in the garage" make sure you skip the "I think" so that your kid can clearly identify things.

"I'm sorry, but it's time to go home" is something I often hear parents say, but not only does this ingrain in their kids a need to apologize for everyday actions, but also the notion that home cannot be as fun as the playground.

Master the Metaphor

Using metaphors and similes is a wonderful way to expand young vocabularies and minds. They also teach children how to express concepts in fun and colorful ways and improve mental flexibility.

My father—who spoke to us in German—was wonderful at using metaphors, and I remember many of them clearly. "That man was as round as a blueberry!" was one of my all-time favorites. It painted such a great picture, and did so in a lighthearted way.

His many stories of why germs getting into a scraped knee were like the Greeks taking over the city of Troy, and why water turning into ice is like us relaxing and taking up the whole couch, helped me grow into an effective communicator who can easily explain complex ideas.

Being able to appropriately express emotions both verbally and physically will enable your children to live self aware and well-adjusted lives, and to make great impressions on everyone they interact with.

Don't Be Senselessly Negative

Not everything in life will be hunky dory, but if you speak about your partner, your work and other day-to -day things with a negative tone, you're coloring your kid's rose-colored glasses black. Whenever I catch myself being a downer at the end of the day, I quickly add a reaffirming phrase. For example: "I had a really hard day at work today,… but I got a lot done!" or "Your dad never picks up after himself… looks like you and I will have to teach him!"

By using such positive phrases, you not only teach your child a positive outlook on life, but also a proactive approach to resolving issues that will make them a favorite in school and work alike.

Use the Right Body Language

Many studies have found that paralingual communications are so much more important than our actual words. So ask yourself: Are you teaching your kid that you can pay attention even while playing with your phone? Are you telling your kids that they are bad boys while hugging them? Are you lying to your kids about not being sad, when tears are streaming down your face?

Being able to appropriately express emotions both verbally and physically will enable your children to live self aware and well-adjusted lives, and to make great impressions on everyone they interact with.

RELATED: Games That Develop Your Toddler's Imagination

Don't Say Weird Things

Did you know that sweetly saying terrible things to children has been linked to sociopathic tendencies? Sweetly telling your little angel that you could just kill them for something stupid that they did could land them on the couch, or worse, so drop those things from your vocabulary ASAP!

And while you're at it, you should also get rid of words like awesomesauce, boo-yeah, amazeballs (which I recently heard a three-year old boy tell his mom!) because they already sound silly now, and that's not going to change, ever.

Stop Singing Your Words

Singing is wonderful, but saying everything in a sing-song way with a raised inflection at the end of sentences is the pet peeve of most employers, and perhaps more importantly, is a gateway to whining. So I'm telling you now, without inflection: stop it.

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