Effective communication is essential in our interactions with children. It is the base of all learning. Today, we’ll explore the rule of 5 comments to 1 question, emphasizing the significance of commenting over questioning. By embracing commenting when speaking to your child, you can build confidence, encourage speech, foster critical thinking, strengthen emotional bonds, and nurture independence in your child.

Additionally, in British culture, it is generally considered polite to use indirect language and ask questions rather than give direct commands. This communication style is often seen as more polite and less confrontational. For example, instead of saying “Close the door,” someone might say “Could you please close the door?” Whilst this might work as adults, it can be confusing for our youngest children.

Simpler to Understand:

If you frame an instruction as a question, when it isn’t really (!) that can be super confusing. When we do this we are asking the child to process both the question and so work out it isn’t really a question but a command so double the processing or else learn to ignore your indirect command which can cause us an unwanted response as an adult!

So instead of saying ‘do you want to put your coat on (and its raining outside)? You would say ‘please put your coat on now?’

Building Confidence and Autonomy:

When we comment on our children’s actions and experiences, we provide them with valuable positive reinforcement. Unlike constant questioning that can feel pressuring, commenting creates a safe space where they can freely express themselves without the fear of being judged as right or wrong. This approach fosters confidence and autonomy, as children feel acknowledged and validated for their efforts and achievements.

So instead of saying ‘what colour is the bus?’ when your child is playing with their cars you might say ‘Look, I can see you are holding the bus.  It’s a red bus.’

Promoting Language Development:

The rule of 5 comments to 1 question is rooted in the goal of promoting language development. When we use comments, we expose children to a rich vocabulary, model proper sentence structure, and provide context for their experiences. By expanding their linguistic abilities through comments, we encourage them to express themselves more effectively. Moreover, adopting a counselling-style approach in our conversations can further promote speech as children feel more at ease to share their thoughts and feelings.

Encouraging Critical Thinking:

Comments stimulate critical thinking skills by prompting children to reflect on their experiences. Rather than bombarding them with questions, which can sometimes result in surface-level responses, comments encourage them to consider different perspectives and engage in deeper conversations. By sharing our observations or thoughts, we provide an opportunity for children to develop their analytical and problem-solving abilities. This approach empowers them to think independently and explore the world around them.

When encouraging children to think critically switching your question into something more curious can do the trick, so instead of saying ‘what colour is the bus?’ you might say ‘I wonder what colour the bus is’

Strengthening Emotional Bonds:

Effective communication strengthens emotional bonds between parents and children. When we comment on their emotions and experiences, we demonstrate empathy, understanding, and support. Comments allow us to acknowledge their feelings and validate their experiences, creating a nurturing environment for emotional growth. By adopting a counselling-style approach, we provide a non-judgmental space where children feel comfortable expressing their emotions, leading to stronger bonds and open lines of communication.

Nurturing Independence:

Comments promote independence by allowing children to share their thoughts and ideas without constantly seeking validation from others. By commenting on their actions, choices, and achievements, we empower them to trust their own judgments and embrace their unique perspectives. This approach cultivates their decision-making skills, autonomy, and self-confidence. As children grow, they learn to rely on their own abilities and develop a sense of responsibility and independence.


The power of commenting in our conversations with children cannot be underestimated. By adopting the rule of 5 comments to 1 question, we create an environment that fosters confidence, encourages speech, stimulates critical thinking, strengthens emotional bonds, and nurtures independence. Let’s seize every opportunity to comment on our children’s actions, achievements, and experiences, and witness the positive impact it has on their growth and development.

Once you tune into this, it can actually be really good fun, so give it a go.

For other ways to help your child learn see our other blogs:

Encouraging your child to have rich vocab | Teepee Day Nursery


Children’s language development and parenting advice – BBC Tiny Happy People