How’s your summer going? I hope you are savoring the moments with children home from school and maybe not as many activities? Today is my mother’s birthday and we are spending it together, sharing in conversation. I treasure these moments and the strong foundation I was taught growing up. Learning to communicate is a life skill that is needed for success in whatever activity we participate in. If we take time to focus on the details when children are young, they will benefit for a lifetime. Learning to communicate with each other will also strengthen family relationships especially during the teenage years. A co-worker of mine, Kathy Goins shares the following tips with us.
Not only is communication important for families, it should be the foundation. Good family communication helps develop trust and builds respect between members of the family. It will make it easier to solve conflicts and face the many challenges thrown at today’s families. By teaching your children good communication techniques today they will have the lifetime tools needed to communicate with others outside the home and build relationships for the future.
Talking is not always the best communication. In fact, the best communicator is often times not the speaker, but the best listener. We need to listen with both ears, with eye contact and with our full attention.
As a parent educator, I often hear parents moan, “Why won’t my child talk to me? But I also hear the other side from the children asking, “Why won’t my parents listen to me?” So what can we do to communicate better? Take time to discover your children. A very important way to build a relationship is to ask questions about their activities, feelings and interests. Try to understand their point of view. Remember what it was like at their age. Let them know you care about their feelings even if they are different than yours. Sounds easy? You say you already do that. Do you really take the time to sit down next to them, with eyes and ears opened and interrupted by the television, computers or cell phones? Here are some things that can enhance family communication:
- Send clear and encouraging messages.
- Watch our tone of voice and body language. It sets the mood for conversation.
- Let them know you are listening. Look at your child’s face.
- Don’t make it about you. Stay with the child’s ideas. A young child’s story may go on and on and get twisted up. But stay with them, they will learn though you to get better at expressing their feelings and ideas.
Communication is the bridge between you and your children. It is a way for you to share love and teach appropriate behavior.
Routines are a great way to establish times to talk. When we eat meals together or have “travel conversations” on our way to and from events, it’s the simple concepts we need to convey. Before going into the store, talk about what’s on the list, where we find it in the store and what the plans are afterwards. Think about ways you can increase the conversation in your home, it’s a great time to practice!
Just a quick note: our Steps to Home Ownership and Money 101 classes will be starting in August, please call 330-264-8722 for more information!