Get The Family Talking!
Dr Amanda Gummer talks about the importance of keeping communication open between all members of the family and looks at a new family game that makes it fun to do just that!
Talking can help you stay mentally healthy and happy. Having meaningful, interesting conversations with your children is easier said than done in today’s busy world, with interferences from technology, work and all the other demands of family life.
Talking is one of the most common human activities, but effective communication isn’t easy.
Some of the most common mistakes that parents make when talking to their children include:
- Assuming you have been understood – quite often what you say, what you mean and what your child hears can be three different things.
- Misinterpreting information – this is very common when body language and other non- verbal cues are not available or are inconsistent with what is being said.
- Not listening – being distracted by other events / technology and trying to multi- task gets in the way of effective communication.
- Interrupting without thinking – conversation and effective communication is a social activity bound by rules and etiquette. You will never encourage your child to talk openly if you interrupt and don’t give him / her the time to get to the point of the conversation in his / her own time.
- Monopolising the discussion – as frustrating as children can be at times, especially when they think they know it all, make sure you listen as much as you speak to your children. It not only helps then learn to communicate effectively, it shows then that you respect them and their views.
It’s not all doom and gloom. There are lots of things you can do to stimulate effective conversations with your children without it feeling like a chore. Try a few of these simple things and see how much better you feel you know each other and how much closer you feel to your whole family:
- Engaging with them face – to – face (voice and expression say more than words) and make sure your communication is genuine.
- Talking about things you haven’t talked about before – this opens up subjects for discussion, whether it’s something you have seen on the news or something that the child shows an interest in.
- Saying how you feel as well as what you think – modelling effective, authentic communication gives children a great model to copy and learn from.
- Ask questions, but don’t interrogate. If you ask your children what they did at school, you’ll most likely get a monosyllabic answer. Instead, ask open questions and really listen to their answers.
- Change situations, activities and people – the more things you try, the more interesting the conversations.
Sharing activities can help communication and playing games can help families relate to each other. Games such as Sussed! that promote conversations and humour are a great way for families to improve their communication and keep those important channels open throughout childhood and into adult life. They can also be a great way for families to have fun getting to know each other better in the process!
This post was written by Amanda Gummer