Positive communication is about making the time to listen to each other, listening without judgment, and being open to expressing your own thoughts and feelings. When you have positive communication, it helps everybody feel understood, respected and valued, and this strengthens your relationships.
Try these positive communication ideas to strengthen your family relationships:
When someone wants to talk with you, stop what you’re doing and listen with full attention. Give people time to express their points of view or feelings. But sometimes you might have to respect their need not to talk – especially if they’re teenagers.
- Be open to talking about difficult things – like admitting to mistakes – and all kinds of feelings, including anger, joy, frustration, fear and anxiety. Just remember that talking about feeling angry is different from getting angry, though.
- Be ready for spontaneous conversations. For example, younger children often like to talk through their feelings when they’re in the bath or as they’re getting into bed.
- Plan for difficult conversations, especially with teenagers. For example, sex, drugs, alcohol, academic difficulties and money are topics that families can find difficult to talk about. It helps to think through your feelings and values before these topics come up.
- Show appreciation, love and encouragement through words and affection. This can be as simple as saying ‘I love you’ to your children each night when they go to bed.
Positive non-verbal communication
Not all communication happens in words, so it’s important to pay attention to the feelings that your children and partner express non-verbally. For example, your teenage child might not want to talk to you but might still come looking for the comfort of cuddles sometimes!
Take an interest in each other’s lives. For example, make time to go to each other’s sporting events, drama performances, art shows and so on.
Include everyone in conversation when you’re talking about the day’s events.
Share family stories and memories. These can help children appreciate things that aren’t obvious, or that they’ve forgotten – for example, Mum’s sporting achievements when she was younger, or the way a big sister helped care for the youngest child after he was born.
Acknowledge each other’s differences, talents and abilities, and use each other’s strengths. For example, if you praise and thank your teenage child for listening to a younger sibling reading, he’ll begin to see himself as helpful and caring.