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Children and Communication

Obviously it’s important to communicate with your children -not just ‘to’ them. Here are some specific tips on this. Most are self-evident -the trick is to actually do them.

1. Eat Together. Family meals, apart from prompting better eating, also tend to promote a key fundamental: more communication. These days with families ‘on the run’, both father and mother working to support everything, mealtimes can become fragmented affairs with parents and children eating separately in different places at different times. This encourages children to ‘separate out’ from the family, which can cause problems later on. Putting in the discipline of eating together compels conversations of some kind to take place. If you can’t manage to do this every day, do it on three or four days a week -and watch the mood of the family improve overall over a period of time. 2. Spend More Time Together. Family trips, outings, art or home improvement projects and other activities together also promote communication and develop a sense of common reality within the family which in turn helps build stronger bonds of affinity. Apart from the whole sub-industry which exists in our society to service the entertainment of children, from theme parks to wildlife centres to special museums and so on, there are also many activities you can plan and do which are local and don’t cost anything: a walk in the woods, camping out in the garden, painting a mural -the possibilities are almost limitless. 3. Monitor Your Child’s Online Activity. The internet can be a dangerous place for children. While it can be educational and keep your child in touch with friends and family, it also raises a number of concerns such as bullying, internet addiction and online predators. If you haven't already done so, move your child's computer into a common area of the home (such as the kitchen or living room), set parental controls and monitor how much time your child spends on the computer each night. 4. Talk to Your Kids. Every parent wants their child to come to them if they have a problem. But you have to open the lines of communication and establish trust before your child will feel comfortable sharing with you. Give them time to talk to you and make it clear that you are always approachable. One good thing to do is to kneel down with young children when talking with them so that you are at their height -they will automatically feel more able to communicate because you are ‘at their level’.

5. Address the Key Issues

There are a number of talks every parent should have with their children as they get older, including frequent conversations at appropriate times about sex, smoking and drugs. But badgering a child to ‘open up’ about things which may be highly charged subjects for them can be counter-productive. It’s much better to have an already-established base from which to speak with them, and you do that every day by making it clear that you like listening to them and are always open to what they might have to say. You can find out through gentle questioning over a period of time about your child’s likes and dislikes, who their friends are and where they spend their time. It’s too late to try to discover these things when they are already in trouble.

Get a grasp of what your child’s life is like and what is happening for him or her and you’ll be better prepared for a crisis.

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