Six ways you can improve your communication with your children

Sick of telling your children “no” all the time? Or just generally nagging? Discover six positive ways you can improve your communication with them.

“If you don’t have the time for one night or at least one hour during the week where everybody can come together as a family, then the family is not the priority” – Oprah Winfrey

Finding the time to communicate with your child can be difficult at the best of times but in the ever-changing environment around us that’s fast paced, highly pressured, competitive and influenced by technology, it’s not always easy.

Six ways you can improve your communication with your children

Here are six ways you can improve communication and build on your relationship as a family, without having to put too much pressure on anybody.

1) Create a family charter or mission statement

A family charter or mission statement is a simple but powerful way to reinforce family values by providing a sense of shared vision. Creating a family mission statement can take some time, but it’s an effective way to get the whole family’s input and identify how they want you all to work collaboratively.

It’s important that a family mission statement is written as a unit, not just by one member of the family, as it should enlist all that the family value and want to achieve. An example of a statement could be, ‘Communicate with each other in a loving and respectful way.’

If children don’t have a shared vision, they are more likely to be easily influenced by others – as Katy Perry sang, “I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything”.

By having a family mission statement, your family has a compass and a destination for how you and your children agree to live.

2) Hold weekly family meetings

Arranging a time each week for you to sit together as a family is the perfect opportunity to discuss what everyone has going on, and any issues that you may need support with. Creating a schedule for the meeting that involves everyone gives everyone the chance to speak and feel acknowledged.

An example of a schedule may be to discuss:

  • Commitments in the week ahead.
  • Any problems.
  • Charity work.
  • Reflection of things that went well (or didn’t) in the past week.
  • Monthly family activity.

3) Plan monthly family activities

Having a monthly family activity is a fun way of getting everybody together and gives you all something to look forward to (your weekly family meeting is a perfect time to brainstorm some ideas).

The activity can cost very little, or even be free. Some ideas for this include:

  • A family walk.
  • Volunteering for a local charity.
  • Lunch somewhere you’ve never been.
  • A movie marathon.
  • Each person cooking a course for a three-course meal.

4) Unplug!

Did you know British teenagers now spend more than nine hours a day digitally engaged? Creating a space where there are no iPads, iPhones, etc is a great way to cut down screen time and avoid distractions when you’re together.

A great place to enforce this to start with is at the dinner table. (Remember, the rule applies to you as a parent too!) Other ways to unplug could include leaving phones downstairs to charge at night, having a limit on television time each night, etc.

5) Arrange individual child dates

No matter what age your children are, they will still thrive on attention from their parents. And, if you have more than one child, taking the time to enjoy 1:1 time with each can develop a stronger bond between you and them.

According to a UCLA study, the average toddler hears the word ‘no’ 400 times a day. Communicating with your child positively during these 1:1 dates means they are likely to value this special time and will be open to communicating with you without having to share the attention.

This is especially effective if one of your children is more reserved than the others. Asking your child what they want to do with you is also a great way in involving them. Examples of 1:1 dates could include:

  • Taking your child to their favourite restaurant.
  • Watching their favourite film just the two of you.
  • Baking a cake together.

6) Start family traditions

Creating family traditions are something which can be passed on from generation to generation. Developing these with your children can create values and life-long memories to be shared and treasured.

Examples of family traditions include:

  • Opening one present on Christmas Eve.
  • Roast dinners on a Sunday.
  • Visiting the same holiday destination.

Rita Chowdhry is a Life and Business Coach, she will be hosting a workshop on communication for parents in January with full details on her website.

Photo by Thiago Cerqueira