Barriers to Communication with Kids

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Healthy communication patterns are important for the proper social, academic and emotional development of all children. Inadequate parent-child communication can result in the child seeking other, potentially more negative, sources of information. It can also produce a cycle of communication problems with other adults and peers. In general, communication barriers cause unnecessary stress and arguments. As a parent, you should avoid creating barriers as much as possible.


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Conversations that begin or end in anger are unhealthy and can influence the development of communication barriers between you and your child. Although it is inevitable that a child will, from time to time, become emotional or get angry during a discussion, as a parent, you should refrain from having this type of response. Not only will controlling your anger provide an example to your child of how to handle communication, but it can also de-escalate your child’s anger and open a path for future, healthier conversations.

One-Sided Communication

Without the participation of both you and your child, a conversation cannot move forward. Examples of one-sided communication include making demands, refusing to acknowledge the questions or concerns of your child, ignoring your child’s attempts to communicate and lecturing your child without encouraging his input. Attempting to engage in one-sided discussions with your child will create a communication barrier and could deter your child from communicating with you.


Inadequate listening skills are barriers to communication with kids of any age. When a child does not think that her parent is listening during a conversation, she will be less likely to continue attempting to communicate. According to Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D., a clinical and health psychologist, not listening to your child teaches her that what she wants to discuss is not important to you. This will in turn teach her not to engage with you and can make her feel alone.

Avoid Communication Barriers

The substance and methods of communication with your child vary with age, but some suggestions for successful communication are relevant for most age groups. The American Psychological Association notes that you should let your child know you are listening, respond in a way that your child will hear, refrain from lecturing or criticizing and encourage your child to give and support opinions. These practices will help you avoid or overcome the communication barriers that are bound to arise between parents and their children.