There’s no such thing as a good relationship with poor communication. And it doesn’t happen by accident. Good communication is a learned skill that families need to work at every day. When communicating with your family, remember that your ears are your most important tools. All the talking in the world won’t help if you can’t truly see each other’s point of view.
Instead of telling them what you think about a problem, ask what they think, and then listen until you understand. The solution you arrive at isn’t nearly as important as your willingness to talk it through.
Hearing is passive. Listening is active.
For example, you say your teenager doesn’t listen to you anymore. Could it be because that perhaps they feel you’re not listening to them? Communication is a two-way street and for it to work properly both parties have to be willing to listen as well as talk. If all you do is lecture your teen is bound to shut down.
As parents, it’s easy to get into the habit of appearing to listen to our kids without really hearing them.
When we get busy and preoccupied with the cares of life, we can easily miss the opportunity to really engage with our kids when they’re trying to communicate with us.
Here a few tips: (these work with your kids and your spouse)
- Begin with a goal of 5 minutes of focused listening. Make eye contact and pay attention to your child’s words, feelings and body language.
- Ask open-ended questions. Those will encourage thought and communication, and they don’t require a right or wrong answer.
- Practice active listening. Instead of saying, “I don’t know why you feel so angry,” say, “It sounds like you’re mad and hurt. I understand that.” Let your child know he’s heard before you offer a solution.
Focus on the Family
As part of National Families Week, Focus on the Family launched a 5-day challenge to help families connect at a deeper level. The first challenge was to find five minutes with each member of your family, ask 3 questions and give your undivided attention.
CHALLENGE No. 1
Find five minutes with each member of your family, ask 3 questions and give your undivided attention.
Head to families.org.au/challenge to sign up for the full challenge and for FREE resources to support your family.