Take a glimpse inside of most American households and you’ll find busy schedules, bustling kids, stressed out parents and a general lack of successful family communication. With your long list of commitments, it can be difficult to actually talk to your kids, but it doesn’t have to be. Consider adding improved family communication to your list of New Year’s resolutions in 2012.
Before you gather the kids and create a list of “must-do’s” this year, take a peek at these five inspiring ideas that are sure to get everyone talking.
A new year means a new opportunity, but it also means starting fresh and moving on from last year’s failures. “Most people set up their New Year’s resolutions based on their failures from the past year,” according to Karen and Henry Kimsey-House, life coaches and authors of Co-Active Coaching. “This begins the year with guilt and shame so the resolutions feel like punishments.” If you want to motivate your family this year, make it a point to forgive past failures and move forward with sights set on new goals.
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Pick a theme
Before you can improve communication within your family, it helps to commit to a plan. Of course, making that plan fun always helps, especially if you want your kids to participate. The Kimsey-Houses suggest selecting an inspiring new theme for the year. “Celebrate and focus on 2012 by deeming it the ‘Year of the Fabulous Family Communication’,” they say. “This makes it fun and gives an overarching emphasis to something meaningful to you and current to this time of your life.”
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Family game night
If you want to improve family communication, first walk away from the phones, tablets, televisions and gaming consoles. Then, gather the family around the table and bust out a board game. “Teens are notorious for not communicating and a fun game often takes away the pressure to talk, at the same time inviting conversation,” says Lindsay Gaskins, a mom and CEO of Marbles: The Brain Store. “Games also give parents a great opportunity to teach younger children how to follow directions, play by the rules and be courteous.”
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Stay on message
If you are dedicated to improving family communication, staying on message will help your kids focus. “Children need instructions, rules, training and role modeling to become successful,” says Dr. Erika Hollander, a family counselor based in New Jersey and Florida. “It is important for our kids to hear positive messages, truthful information and learn healthy habits.” Review your goals every month or so to make sure you’re actually moving in the right direction. If you need to adjust or make changes to your plan, do so but continue to stress the importance of communication to your kids.
Find out how to be a positive role model for your kids >>
Even life’s little moments provide opportunities to improve family communication, but you have to slow down to notice them. “Often parents feel there is little time to catch a breath, take a break or relax,” says Dr. Hollander. “Take time for treasure hunts, tea parties or home spa days. Plant a garden, go to the park or play a game of cards.” It is sometimes during these moments when the most progress can be made when it comes to communicating.