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Communication within the family

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Dialog is vitally important in interpersonal relationships, and is even more so in communication within a family.

Communication is guided by our feelings and by the information that we transmit to others and that we understand from others. Communication serves to establish contact with other people, to give or receive information, to express or understand what we are thinking, to pass on our feelings, to share a thought, idea, experience or information with another person, with the result of helping us to form bonds and share a loving relationship.

When there is communication within a family, there is a feeling of camaraderie, complicity, and an atmosphere of love and affection in the home. Above all, there is mutual respect and deeply-rooted values. Nevertheless, successful communication within a family is not that easy. Parents have to help their children learn how to communicate by introducing mechanisms that encourage effective communication.

Here are some tips:

- When giving somebody information, always try to do it in a positive way.
- Obey the rule of “what I say is what I do".
- Empathize or put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
- Give consistent and non-contradictory messages.
- Listen with attention and interest.
- Create an emotional climate that fosters communication.
- Ask for other people’s opinions.
- Express and share your feelings.
- Be clear when asking for something.

Good communication unites the family

Of course there are no basic rules to improve communication within a family. Each family is its own world, with a unique language. There should always be interest and time from the parents as a way of improving communication. If you want to have a united family, the best road to go down is towards effective communication.

Here is some advice that can help in this task:

1. Look at the type of communication you have with your child. Spend a few days observing yourself and your child, without judgment and blame. It is a good idea to record the typical flashpoints of family conflict or arguments. This is a healthy exercise but it is sometimes difficult to face up to the fact that the harsh reality does not meet the ideal desired situation.

2. Listen actively and carefully to each of the interventions of your children. Assess what they say and prioritize. Your response should always be the correct one as we do not want to underestimate their need to communicate.

3. If you cannot provide the attention that they are asking for at the time, reason with your children, promising to come back to them later. You can simply say “give me 10 minutes and I’m all yours". Remember to thank them later for their patience and their ability to wait, and make sure you really are free to communicate with them in 10 minutes.

4. There are certain ways to communicate that are guaranteed to get the opposite response to the one that is desired: being authoritarian; making the other person feel guilty; belittling the other person’s opinions, and giving sermons. Analyze your own communication methods and think about whether you use any of these. If so, make a conscious effort not to and eventually you may find you get the desired results.

5. No more guilt and blame. If up to now you have not been a shining example of a good communicator, don’t waste time blaming yourself and feeling guilty. It is never too late to change. Think about how you can improve and adapt to a new way of communicating that will do nothing but good for your family, reducing or even eliminating for good many of the usual conflicts with your children.

6. When you decide to change or improve in the search for more open communication within the family, establish a trial period, such as a week or a weekend, after which you sit down together to consider whether it has worked or not, or if you need to change something else in the family dynamic. Parents are often very set in their ways and changing these ways needs a lot of effort, dedication and above all patience, especially with ourselves!

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