Listening and talking is the key to a healthy connection between you and your children. But parenting is hard work and maintaining a good connection with teens can be challenging, especially since parents are dealing with many other pressures.
Use parent-talk with your baby. Also use parent look (look at what you want your child to see and name) and parent gesture (point to what you want your child to notice). All of these help children learn to learn words, to use language and to communicate.
Play games that help children detect differences in sounds, like rhyming or word guessing games.
Narrate children’s experiences. Think of yourself as a sports announcer, giving a play-by-play description of what is happening: “Oh, you just woke up. Are you hungry?” But be sensitive to the times when the kids want to tune out.
Talk about children’s interests. Their interests are the launching pads for building communication skills. Use complex and descriptive words.
Ask questions of children that encourage them to go beyond the “here and now” by thinking about the past and projecting into the future: “what do you think is going to happen next?”
Tell stories about your life and ask children to tell stories about theirs. When children are toddlers and older, write down their stories.
Read with children often but read in a way that uses books as a platform for conversations.