Seven tips for good communication with your kids

Communication in the home prepares your children for success in life. Studies show that a positive communication environment helps children become more thoughtful, intelligent, caring, and confident adults. However, it may be difficult to find time to really communicate with your children. American parents only spend about 20 minutes a day communicating with their children, and most of this communication involves mundane tasks such as imparting instructions.

Do you need to boost communication in your home? Here are some helpful tips you can use:

1. Eat at least one meal together per day.

Mealtime allows for two-way conversation and family bonding.


  • Ask each family member to bring something to discuss: what happened at work, a report on the day's activities, or how the favored team fared in the "big game."
  • If children have difficulty or begin to lose interest, suggest other items for them to bring: a Bible verse, joke, news article, cartoon, or an answer to a prayer.

2. Use time in the car wisely.

Turn mom's taxi service into an opportunity for stimulating conversation!


  • Listen to books on tape or a radio talk show and discuss.
  • Review what is expected of your child in an upcoming situation.
  • Play the alphabet game, "I Spy," or ask your child to call out words he knows on passing signs.
  • Make up stories. One person starts the story and each person adds a paragraph.
  • Sing songs. Take requests from family members. Talk about why each person chose his song.

3. Host a family night each week.

With a little effort, most families can set aside one evening per week for family activity.


  • Create a memorable activity. Let your imagination be creative in the events you plan.
  • Go to a free concert in the park.
  • Play games.

4. Organize a 10-minute family time before bed each evening.

Take time to cuddle on the sofa and affirm your love for your younger children. Make the effort to speak words of kindness and affirmation.


  • Read a story from the Bible or a storybook and sing a song.
  • Talk about desirable character qualities raised by issues in the story.
  • Address your child's fears and desires.
  • Review what your child did that day.
  • Pray for missionaries, friends, and leaders.

5. Host family meetings to give your children a forum in which their input matters.


  • Read a book together and discuss what your family can learn from the book.
  • Share vacation plans.
  • Work through family problems.
  • Discuss what is going on in the world and what your family can do to make a difference.

6. Express positive emotions.

It takes more than just words to communicate positively. Studies show that only 7 percent of our message is through our words while 38 percent is through our tone of voice and 55 percent is through our posture and facial expressions!


  • Use your face and voice to convey positive emotions such as happiness, excitement, suspense, and joy. Let your children see that communication can be positive and fun.
  • Listen actively. When each child talks, listen carefully and reflect back his feelings. Ask questions to pull out important emotions and details.

7. Be conscious of how your communication affects your children.

Children take cues from you as how to treat others in the family, as well as how to act outside the home.


  • Ask, "Am I setting a good example of how to honor and respect others?"
  • Ask, "Am I using eye contact to communicate in a positive way with my child?"
  • Ask, "When was the last time I really showed my child that I love him?"

Dr. Jeff Myers is the author of Secrets of Great Communicators. To subscribe to Dr. Myers' free weekly newsletter, visit Jeff and his wife, Danielle, have three children and live in Tennessee.

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