Family Communication: Activities & Ideas
- Talk about the everyday stuff every day — If your kids learn they can trust you with the “little stuff,” they’re more likely to come to you about the “big stuff.”
- Create times for talking — Expect everyone to have a family meal together. Turn off the music while you’re driving around. Play a board game instead of watching television.
- Be approachable — If kids think they’ll get a lecture or be judged every time they bring up an idea or a personal experience, they’ll shut down. Try to listen without judging and to ask questions without accusing. Show that you understand what your children are feeling by sharing similar experiences.
- Take concerns seriously — Sometimes it’s easy to dismiss children’s concerns or worries because, from an adult perspective, they’re not important. Don’t; don’t take them lightly, laugh at or tease them. If it’s important to your children, empathize and listen. They’ll learn that they can come to you about other things—some of which you’ll think are really important.
- Don’t wait — You don’t have to wait for an “important” conversation to have a good conversation. Find times to talk with your children every day about little stuff and big stuff and when you do talk, really listen to what they have to say.
- Wait — Whether they’re tired or upset, sometimes your children aren’t ready to talk. Give yourself and your children time and space, but don’t make it an excuse to avoid conversation.
- Listen for more than the words — What your children are “saying” may not come out in words. It may show through body language, tone or other actions. Listen carefully and try to understand the feelings behind the words, not just the words themselves.
- Think through the tough conversations — Sometimes you need to have difficult conversations. When the time comes, think it through in advance. What do you want to say? What questions do you need to ask? What can you do to make it go as well as possible?
Reprinted with the permission of A-better-child.org. © 2006 - 2008, A-Better-Child.org
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