Communication is perhaps the most important thing in building a tightly knit family. Parents need to be able to communicate clearly with their children, and children need to be able to talk to their parents without any reservations. Without an open channel of communication, family relationships will not reach their full potential.
The sad truth is that not everyone is adept at communicating with others clearly. Many family issues actually arise from the simple problem of lack of communication – either that or communication exists, but is not effective. If you want to build strong relationships with your children, you need to learn how to communicate with them. Here are some ways by which you can enhance communication in your family.
1. Be available, and let your children know!
Your availability is the first thing that you should work on, if you haven’t already. How can conversations take place if you are not present to talk to your children? You need to make time for meaningful conversations with all of your children. While you may have a very busy schedule, you also need to set aside time whenever your children need to talk. The degree of difficulty in doing this will vary from one individual to the next, but the premise is the same. You need to be willing to set aside other things for your children.
More so, you need to convey this availability to your children. Merely acknowledging to yourself that you will always be available is not enough. Your children need to know that whenever they need to bring something to you, you will be there and that you will not be distracted by work issues. There really is no other way to do this than to verbally express your availability and following it up with action.
2. Actively seek out your children in conversation.
Just because you have made it clear to your children that you are willing and available for talks anytime, it does not mean that your children will always make the first move. In fact, perhaps many times, you will have to be the one to make the first move. As the parent, that is part of your responsibility.
Simple ways by which you can do this: ask your children how their day went. Delve into the specifics. What did they do during lunch? How did their test go? If you know they are facing some issues at school, ask about them.
3. Be generous with your praise, but do not shy away from constructive criticism.
It is important that your children learn how to take helpful criticism. However, you should also balance it out with encouraging words. If they didn’t get a perfect score in an exam, do not make them feel inept or stupid. Instead, praise them for getting a decent grade in a difficult subject (if that is the case). If you know they failed because of their own neglect, then encourage them to work harder, making sure they understand the consequences of their actions but not condemning them.
4. Equip yourself with knowledge/information about your child’s surroundings and environment away from home.
Working parents face the issue of not having enough time to keep tabs on their children’s activities. What happens is that they are able to provide for the family’s needs financially but sometimes do not have a clue as to what their children are up to. This is something that you ought to avoid at all costs. You have to know about your children’s friends and their activities. You have to know what things your children can be exposed to. In knowing these things, you will be able to discuss necessary subjects with them.
5. Do not interrupt your children during conversations.
When you are talking with your children, do not make the mistake of constantly interrupting them when you think what they’re saying is wrong or irrational. You need to give them time to speak their minds – even vent, if they need to. If you make it a habit to interrupt your children all the time, then they might very well clam up on you and stop talking to you about important things. Just because you are older and, supposedly, wiser, it does not mean that what the kids have to say is not important.
6. Be an active listener!
How often do you talk to your children with half of your mind dwelling on a million other things that you need to take care of? You might be making dinner or cleaning the kitchen while you having a conversation; or maybe you are in front of your computer getting some extra work done. When your mind is preoccupied with other things, the chances are that you might be missing on some things that your children are trying to tell you. I am not only referring to words but also to nonverbal cues. You need to focus your whole attention on what your children are saying in order for communication to be effective. Listening does not mean simply being there physically. You have to devote all your energy to the conversation.