Families of all shapes and sizes share a common problem: communication. When issues arise between parents and children, siblings, or spouses, there’s often a breakdown in communication to blame. Everyone in the family deserves an opportunity to express what they want, need, think and feel in a way that’s healthy and helpful for all involved.
Unfortunately, life seems more hectic and more complicated than ever before. When we’re stressed and short on time, maintaining healthy, open communication takes a backseat. However, if you want to strengthen family bonds, improve intimacy, and nurture communicative children, try these seven tips:
1. Make time to talk
Nowadays, kids are just as overscheduled and overworked as their parents. Everyone’s calendar is full of activities, commitments and events. Sometimes life gets so hectic we barely have time to talk to our family members. We schedule everything else—why not book an appointment for a conversation with the people we care about the most? Even setting aside 10 minutes a day to chat with your spouse or child can help to build healthy communication habits.
2. Turn off distractions
We live in the age of technology. As much as it has the power to connect us, it can also become a distraction from what’s in front of us. Most of us spend our days in front of a screen, with the music on, the TV in the background, or cell phone in hand. When it’s time to talk, turn it all off and give your loved one your full attention. If you’re the one expressing yourself, ask that they do the same.
3. Sit down to dinner
It may take some re-scheduling of busy calendars, yet having a meal together around the dinner table can be well worth it. Enforce a “no electronics” rule for parents and kids alike. Instead, focus on the conversation. Give everyone a chance to share the highlights, and lowlights, of their day. If you want the family to stick around longer, be sure to serve dessert!
4. Get some 1-on-1 time
Quality time between family members is a crucial part of good communication. Some of the best quality time comes when you’re 1-on-1, whether it’s date with your spouse or a date with your child. Spending individual time with your family members shows them how much they matter and that they are a priority for you. It allows you to create a special connection that unites you both.
5. Create family traditions
Think about the treasured family traditions from your childhood. A certain holiday meal. A special weekend breakfast. A bedtime ritual. Are you creating those moments for your family? Some traditions just occur naturally, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start one. Family traditions help us reconnect and build stronger bonds. Look at life’s daily routines and find ways to turn a regular activity into a special tradition.
6. Learn to listen
Are you an active listener? It’s not always an easy thing to do, but it definitely goes a long way with a loved one. When your partner or child has something to share, be prepared to listen fully. It doesn’t matter if you don’t agree with what they’re saying, give them the chance to express themselves. Ask for clarity if you need to better understand what they’re trying to communicate.
7. Take turns picking activities
Every family is made up of different personalities with unique interests and tastes. Celebrate this individuality by allowing everyone a chance to choose a family activity. If one child enjoys a particular hobby, let them introduce it to the family. Gain a better understanding of your loved ones through the things that bring them joy, and perhaps you’ll discover some common interests.
As important as our family relationships are to us, it’s not always easy to get along with the ones we love the most, but communication can create a solid foundation upon which to build a healthy, happy family.