Executive Summary: Why is great communication key for your kid’s growth?
Very few things are more important than open communication in any relationship. That’s doubly important in the family! If you are a busy family, which most families are, the importance you need to place on establishing good solid methods of communication is extremely important.
Parents who don’t create a family that prioritizes communicate run the risk of creating families where kids don’t feel a sense of belonging. Like last week’s tip highlighted, the value of a child feeling a sense of belonging is immeasurable. Communication creates a sense of love and most importantly, belonging.
Big deal, right? Yes. Kids who live with this type of lost identity are at risk of having problems with gangs, addiction, pornography and other challenges in contemporary culture.
Here are 2 things you can do this week to improve your family communication.
Unplug your family. This week, as painful as it is, pick an evening to go cold turkey and require every person in your family to put their phones/iPods/televisions away.
You need to be strong here because you’re going to get significant pressure to not unplug the family. Turn off the phone and force them to talk to you! What happened 10 years ago when families didn’t have cell phones and dozens of connected devices in a home? Is there anything really wrong with taking one day this week to try this experiment? Not a thing.
Schedule a family date. Put it on the calendar regularly. It doesn’t have to be a dinner, anything expensive, or burdensome. It could be as simple as a family board night game on Saturday evening. I know, we can already hear the teenagers grumbling about how boring this will be. My advice? Who cares how “boring” it will be. 🙂 The value of spending two hours together as a family talking about the small stuff will have a significant impact when you need to talk about the big stuff.
Extra Credit. Remove any television from your kid’s bedroom. The reasons, I hope, are obvious; however, consider television the enemy of communication.
You can do this. It is incredibly important as the leaders in your household to make Communication a priority this week. Don’t stop the quality time with each of your kids you started last week!
Why Is Communication Important To Your Family
Why is it important for us to talk? I know that sounds like a simple question with a simple answer; however, we send our kids off to practice and other activities and sacrifice time as a family communicating every single day of the week. I am a firm believer our addiction to extracurricular sports it is one of the biggest disservices we do to our kids. We overschedule them, choking out our ability to be a family and their time to simply be a kid.
A quick story
During the last six months, Laurie and I committed our boys to taekwondo with a local facility. Don’t get me wrong, taekwondo and any martial arts are awesome for kids of all ages. After the first couple weeks of excitement around watching our little kids in their cute uniforms, attempting moves that would be worthy of a junior Bruce Lee, the reality set in on the Laurie and me about the amount of time we were going to invest in this process for our kids
It sounds simple: 30 minutes a day twice a week. That’s just a 60-minute investment. The reality is, it ends up being an hour and a half per night between two kids, two different sessions, travel, dressing, packing a quick lunch or dinner, etc. Quickly, what seemed like an hour a week was consuming two nights a week and choking out our ability to do basic blocking and tackling as a family. I get it, we all want the best for our kids. In many ways, we’re trying to provide opportunities for our kids that we weren’t allowed or we couldn’t afford 20 years ago.
At what cost?
If you think about the value of family and the time kids historically spend with their family creating bonds and relationships, does it surprise us that when we abdicate that responsibility to a coach or a teacher our family structure starts to fall apart?
Parents have good intentions…
Great men and women who love their kids surround me. I also listen to dozens of conversations each week around how busy they are and they no longer have time for some of the things they want to do. If you honestly want to do those things like having dinner together, then why don’t you do
Are you investing more outside the home than in.
There is no requirement for a child to play baseball at the highest level. There’s no requirement for a child to get a black belt by the age of 10. There’s no requirement for you to spend three weekends a month traveling around your state or region competing in tournaments. These are all choices you’re making.
I believe you should limit your child’s exposure to outside activities to one activity per year. Blasphemy. Yes, I get it and I expect some hate mail from that statement. What on earth are you doing now as a parent when you aren’t allowing your kids to become the next Cy Young winner? (The Cy Young Award is given to the best professional baseball pitcher each year in the U.S) I argue you are taking the tougher path. You are now required to parent much more. You are going to have large blocks of time where your kids are going to say, “I have nothing to do….” Suggestion? ” Son, it is a great day to be outside, get out and make some memories.”
See, I will bet statistics show that when you engage with your kids in a consistent manner, you’re much more likely to have kids who are successful than kids who don’t engage with her parents regularly. We are working on the complete research to support our hypothesis; however, take our statement as opinion based upon hundreds of conversations this past year. It goes to stand that, ‘You harvest what you plant.’ If you invest in your kids with time and communication, you will get that investment back.
Communication can only happen when you actually make it a priority.
If you are a parent of a young family, you’ve got a great opportunity to create incredibly rich traditions that will last a lifetime for your child.
When I was having dinner with a colleague a few weeks ago, he talked about the joy of their family Sunday night dinner. Every Sunday, their family gets together and has a big dinner. Now, I understand all of his family is in the same city and there are circumstances that might prevent everyone from getting together; however, it is a priority their entire family has to gather on this event.
I would encourage you to find and carve out time to let communication happen. If you are the parent of three children all doing extremely busy sports like dance/cheer activities, I would ask you to really consider what your end game is for your child’s investment. Would your family be better off limiting the activity and spending more time together actually being a family? Don’t ask the coach. Ask your close friends. They will be honest.
Laurie and I abandoned taekwondo two months ago when it became clear our time was being consumed by an activity that didn’t involve our interaction with her kids. I’m sure will probably go back into Taekwondo the future; however, it will be in an environment and a time that makes sense for us and doesn’t require us to sacrifice two nights per week together.
Are you inviting the bar over to the house to raise your kids?
According to statistics, 29% of two-year-olds have a television in the room and the average child under 18 spends two hours per day watching television. Simply remove the television from private rooms and limit the time your kids spend in front of it.
What would happen immediately if you just stopped the practice of significant television watching? I get it, television is magic. If you are having one of those days and you need 30 minutes of time to focus on something, there is really nothing quite as powerful as turning on a television show. Your kids sort of disappear.
I do think there is a time and a place for television; however, take a hard look at how much time your kids are spending in front of the TV. If that time is more than 30 minutes per day, you have the opportunity to encourage (read make) them find something else to do; something that might add more value to their lives.
For Laurie and I, there has been more than one evening where we say, ‘We will never get that hour back.’ Don’t make that the norm for your kids.
Understanding of Individual Members
In families where the parents only care about paying bills and meeting the financial needs of the children, it is often found that such children grow up to feel like strangers around them. Hence, It’s important to communicate with your children and know who they really are. Find out their interests; know their friends and don’t be quick to judge their opinions or make them feel naive and worthless. Children deserve a sense of belonging where they are not scared to express themselves and just think out loud. This is a perfect outcome of the quality time objective we gave you in week 1’s challenge!
Open communication is key to a good support system
It is vital that kids have a nucleus where they can return to for the purpose of sharing their hopes, disappointments, and achievements. Allow your family members to talk about everything, from work to school projects, to friendships and adventure, or even challenges and doubts. If your daughter can’t talk to you about her boyfriend probably because you’re going to scold her, then she may as well seek an audience elsewhere. If your son cannot tell you about how he’s being bullied in school because you’ll call him a weakling, then he may just withdraw himself and probably do something irrational soon. Communication in the family is needed to help family members recover from sad occurrences or even illnesses.
Make time for talking
Talking can’t happen when you’re watching television or texting one of your friends. Do something creative like starting a family huddle the days per week. Everything is open for discussion: frustrations, issues, and celebrations. Run it like a meeting. Activities like playing on a sand volleyball team, river rafting, camping and hiking, and scavenger hunts. All of these activities create the opportunity for your family to gain trust and improve your family’s capability for communication.
Nothing unmeasured ever gets done
Are you curious about the effectiveness of your family’s communication? When you set a goal to text every member of your family once a week, it is measurable. Some examples might be inviting everyone on the third Friday of the month every month. Once a quarter have a family planning session. Once a year, have a family retreat. The secret here is making it actionable and measurable. We will do X, by Y.
Laugh at anything possible.
The value of a good chuckle is incredible. Be silly. Have a dance party. Run through the sprinkler. Play hide-and-seek. Read a funny story. Watch a funny movie as a family. Enjoy the time you have as a family. Hug your kids every single chance you get.
Conversation Starters for family!
Who is your best friend?
If you had 30 minutes of free time, what would you do?
What is your favorite character on television? In (a book) they are reading.
If you could be a character on television, which would it be?
What is your favorite song right now?
What’s easiest about being my/our kid? What’s the hardest?
Who is your favorite teacher?
What is your favorite chore?
Where do you want to go on vacation?
Best Friend? Why?
What are you grateful for today?
What happened today that was unexpected?
Did someone at school need help today?
Two Simple Things You Can Do THIS WEEK to improve communication
- Unplug your family. This week, as painful as it is, pick an evening to go cold Turkey and require every person in your family to put their phones/ipods/televisions away. You need to be strong here because you’re going to get significant pressure to not unplug the family. What happened 10 years ago when families didn’t have cell phones and dozens of connected devices in a home? Is there anything wrong with taking one day this week to try this experiment? You will be surprised how well your family will react after the initial withdrawal symptoms.
- Schedule a family date. Put it on the calendar and it should become regular. It doesn’t have to be at dinner, anything expensive, or anything burdensome. It could be as simple as a family board night game on Saturday evening. I know, I can already hear the teenagers grumbling about how boring this will be. My advice is “who cares.” the value of spending two hours together as a family talking about the small stuff will have the significant impact when you need to talk about the big stuff. If nothing else, eat around the table!
- Extra Credit. Remove all televisions from your kids’ bedrooms. The reasons are somewhat obvious; however, consider television and the Internet the enemy of communication. I liken having an Internet connection and a television in a kid’s room to inviting everyone from the bar over and having them spend some quality time with your kids without you there. Think about it.
You can do this.
It is incredibly important as the leaders in your household to make Communication a priority this week. Don’t stop your quality time with each of your kids you started last week.
The MOST USEFUL tip we got this year regarding communication skills for kids.
Work on how your kids interrupt you.
Our kids loved to interrupt. They just wanted their answers right away; however, we were concerned that if we didn’t do something, we were certain to have a problem as the kids became older.
Here is one of the MOST effective tools you can use for your kids, specifically focused on learning how to communicate and not interrupt! It is like magic with kids.
- Ask your child to place their hand on you when they want to speak to you while you’re talking to someone else.
- Put your hand on top of theirs to acknowledge they want your attention.
- When you have an opportunity to respond to them, do.
- Thank your kid for waiting and then focus on their question.
- It works every time.
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