Once our children get a little older and have mastered their language skills, it’s important that parents start to establish healthy forms of communication. Communication is so important to building positive relationships with our kids, so what are some ways we can work on those skills? In this blog, we’ll explore some ways to increase communication as a family.
Family Meals Make a Difference
A great way to increase family communication is to have family meals together.
Take a moment and think, how many meals a week does your family eat together?
Adding this practice to your daily, or even weekly routine to start out, can offer a number of health, emotional, and social benefits. Some of these benefits include:
Better academic performance
- Higher self-esteem
- Greater sense of resilience
- Lower risk of substance abuse
- Lower risk of teen pregnancy
- Lower risk of depression
- Lower likelihood of developing eating disorders
- Lower rates of obesity
(Dr. Anne K. Fishel, Food for Thought)
How Can You Start?
Eating as a family for breakfast, lunch, or on weekends counts too! Start small with a goal of eating together 3 times a week and slowly increase that number. Prepare your meals in advance, whenever you have a few hours to do it! Cooking a big crock pot meal, pot of soup, or casserole, and then freezing it to reheat for the week ahead can be a huge help! Save screen time for after dinner so that the family can focus on each other and the conversation being shared.
Another way to increase communication between children and caregivers is to hold family meetings. When family meetings are held regularly, it helps communicate to the children that they are a priority and that they have a voice within the family.
Allow each child a chance to talk in the meeting. This is an opportunity for your children to bring up things that could help them, that are bothering them, or that they appreciate within the family. When your children are able to speak up and share their thoughts, you have the chance to listen and get a better understanding of your child’s needs.
As a parent, this also gives you a chance to communicate issues that you’ve noticed in the household. Has laundry been piling up on bedroom floors, tantrums been occurring at bed-time, or math grades been slipping? Let your children know that you have noticed, but more importantly, also remind them that you are there to help.
Instead of reacting, by pointing things out and scolding your child for these behaviors, respond by helping them develop a plan to change these behaviors.
The family meeting shouldn’t be a dreaded time of the week, instead it should be something your children look forward to. Be creative with the meeting location or what you call the meeting, and end the meeting with a fun family activity. Use this link for resources to help you plan and organize for your family meetings!
Explore this workbook Helping Youth Succeed: Strengthening Family Ties to find activities designed to strengthen your family’s relationships and communication
In this video by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, discover ways to listen and talk with your children