Dr. Audrey Kteily, LPC-S at Coppell Family Therapy offers some tips for sparking better communication in your family:
1. Dinner at the table together! During busy work and school days it can be hard to get everyone to the dinner table together. Strive for at least 3 dinners per week where everyone gets to sit down, enjoy the meal, and talk about their day. Don't forget to turn the TV off and leave phones behind.
2. Have REAL communication! Time saver messages like text and email might be quick, but they are not a replacement for face to face discussions. Keep your use of these to a minimum and limit topics to reminders such as when to pick up someone, or what to grab at the store.
3. Encourage kids to speak! Tired of getting one word answers from your kids when you inquire about their day? Ask questions that are not able to be answered with a yes or no: What was your favorite thing about today? or Tell me 3 positive things that happened. The more room you give them, the more they are likely to open up!
4. Embrace the ALIEN! Your teenager is a new species that you have never seen before, and they don't much resemble that charming elementary child you once knew. Quit strolling down memory lane and get in the fast lane with your teen! They are grappling with identity, self awareness, self esteem, sexuality, and relationships to list a few. They are working hard to figure out life's big questions and they NEED you whether they say so or not.
5. Find Common Ground. Most families have so many differences they rarely find the similarities. Look for family activities that the whole family can do that bring you together. A simple task like cooking at home has something to offer everyone and gives you an opportunity for valuable family time.
6. Positive or Negative? It is often said Emotions are not positive or negative. It's what you DO WITH THEM that counts. Let the family determine (with your guidance) what language will be accepted in your family and what won't. A few good ones to get started with are: No yelling. No name calling. Always be kind, etc. PARENTS: Be aware that you must be models for your kids!
7. Monkey see ¦ Its pretty hard to expect your kids to adhere to rules that you yourself will not follow. If you say that no yelling is a rule but you and your spouse yell all the time, you are sending mixed messages to your kids.
8. R-E-S-P-E-C-T! Expect it. Reward it. Model it. Explain it. It heals so very much for all of us.