How do you increase communication in your home and make sure everyone’s connected?
When healthy communication is happening in the family, everyone feels connected and part of the same team. All the gears are synched up, your family is firing on all cylinders and is headed in the same direction. There are regular check-ins to make sure balls don’t get dropped and you aren’t surprised about projects or performances. If there are issues that need to be addressed with the whole family, you are able to get everyone together and effectively address them. You and your spouse have plenty of time to express needs and concerns and feel heard and also have time to chat and stay connected.
There are two parts to getting connected and bonded together and building those strong relationships. The first is being intentional about one-on-one communication with each member of the family and the other is having good consistent communication together as a whole family. It would be nice to want this, snap your fingers and BOOM, life is golden. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. You’ll need to be intentional in your efforts and it will probably take some time to turn the ship. But the payoff can be life-changing for your family. This is so totally doable! You just have to tweak a few things.
1. One-On-One Communication.
Start here. Make time to hang out. Watch your kids play some video games, ask them to go run an errand with you, or take them out for ice cream. Car rides are magical communication times—the ride to school, practice, a friend’s house—these are all primo talking opportunities. (Some family members are extroverted and will be talking your ears off. Don’t forget your more quiet, introverted family members. You might have to make an extra effort to connect with them.) Some parents make the ride to school a tech-free zone to promote conversation in the car.
The basics of communication are speaking and listening, and there are ways to get better at both of them. They are learned skills you can improve on, but before we even get into that—communication usually happens organically when you are together.
2. Family Communication at Home.
Same rules apply. Communication usually happens organically when you are together—it’s just a matter of how do you get everyone together? I know everyone is super busy (maybe that has to be addressed) but try to carve out at least a few times a week when you eat together with phones turned off. (I’m gonna give you some conversation starters so it isn’t just awkward silence.)
Family game nights, family movie nights, family outings to a park—these usually lead to some good ole’ fashioned chit-chat. Check out this Parenting Toolkit: A Family Guide To The Best Summer Ever! It’s filled with ideas for activities, conversation-starters, plus each activity is geared toward learning an important relationship skill. Check out other family resources HERE.
If your family is going in a lot of different directions, weekly family meetings can decrease drama and encourage open communication as you talk about the family calendar, who needs to be where, when projects are due and require parental assistance, etc. Family meetings are also a way to empower your kids and encourage open communication. Anybody can request a family meeting if there is an urgent issue they believe needs to be discussed. In general, family meetings should be fun, short, and involve everyone. You want two-way communication, not a lecture. You are looking for feedback from everyone. Follow it up with a fun activity.
How do you get better at communication in general?
Here’s the insider info to get you communicating like a pro. We covered the need to be together, but now what? (If you have teens, check this out.)
The Speaking Part of Communication in Your Home
“So how was your day?”
Here are five things you can ask instead of, “How was your day?” You don’t want to be a criminal interrogator; you want to be a conversation initiator. Big difference. This means open-ended questions, asking “what makes you think that?” or saying “tell me more” quite a bit. It means sometimes answering questions with questions, then listening for what is hiding underneath a question or statement and following up on it. The goal is to understand where your child is coming from. When they feel like you “get” them, they are much more likely to open up to you.
Work on being more observant. Notice I didn’t say, “private investigator.” You want to be a conversation instigator. What are your family members (including your spouse) into? What makes them light up? How do they spend their free time? Where do they put their energy? If you have younger ones, get on the floor and play with them. Step into the world of your family members with sincere questions. Then really listen.
The Listening Part of Communication in Your Home.
Be available for when your family members want to talk to you. Avoid distractions and interruptions. Give your full attention. (Put yourself in their shoes. Ask clarifying questions. Ask questions that take the conversation deeper. Model the kind of communication you want to have. (Check out this article on active listening skills—especially the Six Levels of Listening.) People love talking to a good listener.
There are books filled with conversation starters and the internet is filled with lists of questions for kids of every age and for couples. Invest in a few books or click around for some lists. They’re great for road trips and pillow talk. Just when you think you know all there is to know about somebody, one of these questions will take you into new territory and they are tons of fun.
27 Family Conversation Starters
- If you could go anywhere on vacation, where would you go and why?
- If I could do one thing to be a better parent to you, what would it be?
- What do you worry about the most? Why?
- What will you do when you graduate high school?
- When was a time that you were kind to someone else?
- What is the best thing about our family?
- Who is someone you admire right now? Why?
- What is the “lesson” or “takeaway” from your favorite book or movie?
- What do you think about tattoos and piercings?
- How common do you think cheating is at school? What do you think about cheating?
- What is the biggest factor in being successful at school?
- Is it better to be optimistic or realistic? Why?
- What do you like about you?
- Have I ever not noticed when you were sad?
- What makes someone popular?
- What is one thing you would try if you were completely fearless?
- How do you react when your feelings are hurt? Does it help?
- What do you think about the drinking age?
- Who gets bullied or teased at school? Why?
- How should someone handle it if they are bullied?
- What do you like best about your friends?
- Is there anything you don’t like about your friends?
- What is the hardest part about being a kid?
- How is love/marriage different in real life than in the movies?
- What is the hardest thing about being a girl? Being a boy?
- Do you have friends with different religious beliefs?
- What do you think about that? How will you know if you’ve had a successful life?
★ Good communication in your home doesn’t happen by accident. But you can absolutely increase the quality AND quantity of communication in your family. You got this!
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