How do you communicate with your spouse and children? Here are some ideas for you to consider in working on that relationship.
LISTEN-This has to be at the top of the list. In order to be an effective communicator, you HAVE TO LISTEN. Look them in the eye. Give them your full attention. Put your phone down. Avoid interrupting. Look for non-verbal cues-like their tone of voice, posture, and facial expressions. (That is one reason I don’t like texting). Be accepting and allow them to express their feelings and ideas-even if you don’t agree. If they know that you are sincerely interested in what they say, they will come to you again. I like the LUV way of communication…L=Listen, U=Understand, V=Validate.
Be Clear-Tell them what you are thinking and feeling. I always joke when there are misunderstandings. I’ll say, “It’s not what I say, It’s what I mean!” I’m still working on this one. I really don’t understand why they can’t read my mind. It is so clear to me how I feel! Tell them your true feelings and thoughts. Be honest.
Give Positive Labels. You can promote a good self-image by positive talk. Children will become what they are expected to become. My high self-image stems directly from my mom always telling me that I was a special daughter of my Heavenly Father. Hearing that all the time definitely encouraged me to live up to that label. Only allow labels of love and acceptance. don’t allow negative labels into your home…even in joking. They will cause hurt feelings and disappointment in your home.
“Kind Words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”Mother Teresa
Don’t speak in anger. Don’t destroy the moment. Take a break, walk away, just do whatever it takes to calm down. Make sure when disciplining-that you attack the problem and not the child. (The child is bad vs. the child behaved badly). Remember in Proverbs 15:1 it says that a soft answer turneth away wrath. Try to give a quiet response sometime. It will totally change the environment. Control your anger and teach your kids to control theirs and you will see a big difference!
Try to see things from their perspective. Try to imagine what they are going through. Do you remember what life was like when you were their age? What things did you struggle with? Tell them about those things and how you overcame them. I loved this story of a dad who learned to share what he went through and struggled with at each age of his children.
Have one-on-one time with your kids. You have to schedule it in to make it fit in the busy schedule. Ask them about their goals and experiences. We took each child out for a special birthday dinner on their 12th birthday. Friday is early out so I have a few hours with just me and my son. I love that! He looks forward to spending time together every week. I have one daughter that loves shopping-we have a Black Friday tradition every year! Find the time for them. Ask your children for suggestions. Not too long ago I was struggling with something and one of my daughters gave me counsel. She really seems to know exactly what to say when I am struggling!
Take advantage of down time in the car. How often are you in the car with at least one of your kids? Running errands, on trips, carpool- There are so many opportunities to talk with your kids and find out about their lives. You can get conversation starters for the car to get you talking.
Have family dinner together. I cannot stress enough how this has been a positive impact for our family. We have so many conversations together while eating. No electronics or paper is allowed at our table. We have to talk to each other. There are some great family conversation starters to get you going.
Foster a peaceful climate in your home. Make sure your home feels like a “safe place” for everyone there. Try to resolve differences and disagreements quickly and privately. Fighting and bickering and nagging are not allowed in our home and when it does start, it seems to escalate so quickly. I like to think of it as I’m trying to make our home a little bit more like heaven. Don’t allow anything negative into your home. I think criticism would fall here as well as swearing. Don’t do it and don’t allow it in your home. Make sure your home is a place of safety and peace.
Find ways to show your appreciation. Little notes are my favorite; like you are awesome because… One Valentine’s Day I heart attacked each person’s door and wrote notes on each heart about how much I loved them. I have stuck notes to their planners, dash boards, sent random texts telling them I love them, give them a great big hug when they come in the door, SMILE at them. We like to write thank you cards to express what they really appreciate about each other. You can put a little extra thought into birthday cards, notes, emails, really-get creative. There are so many ways to say I love and appreciate you! Start observing the good that your family does so you can tell them how much you appreciate it. Compliment every chance you get! Catch every opportunity when they are doing something right or good. Let your loved ones know why they are your loved ones!
Talk with your spouse. Discuss serious issues with your spouse in private. Sometimes you may have to compromise or learn to do things differently than you are used to. I remember our first fight after we got married…How do you put the utensils in the dishwasher-up or down? We had both done it opposite ways growing up. Work it out! Talk to each other. Tell them why you feel the way you do and listen for their why as well. Men and women communicate so differently. Learn to tell your spouse your feelings and learn how he communicates. We have Sunday Night couple time where we counsel together and discuss life and the kids and anything else that might be happening. It is one of my favorite times. We also try to go on weekly dates together. This helps with our communication and we are building memories to reminisce about later. It’s always fun to remember the “good times”.
“Love is not blind-it sees more, not less. But because it sees more, it is willing to see less.”
Communication is a work in progress. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Just try to improve wherever you can and listen and show your family members just how much you love and appreciate them!
Inspirations for this post…