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5 Ways to Communicate More Often and Effectively with Your Children

5 Ways to Communicate More Often and Effectively with Your Children

In today’s fast moving world, it is often challenging to find free time to be together as a family. Adults are working more hours per week and children are involved in many more activities than in previous generations. In addition, “screen time”, social media, and texting are all consuming more of everyone’s time.

Below are some suggested ways to improve communications with your children:

1.) Family Dinner Time:
With the number of sports, clubs, and activities that children and teens are involved in, it makes it challenging to eat together at the dinner table. Many families are accustomed to dinner at the drive-thru or eating en-route to a game or activity. As a family, set a goal that you will have at least a day or two a week that the family eats dinner together at home. Each member of the family can share a highlight from the day and also discuss any challenges or concerns. This may not seem like a big deal, but the power of this conversation and family time is huge.

2.) Tech Free Time:
People have become very comfortable being in the same space without being together. It is pretty common to have multiple people in a room and each one of them doing something different on their device. This really is not together time. It is very important to “Be Present” for periods of time with your family. If this is a challenge, create a family time that is tech free. Even if this is only for 15-30 minutes a day. You will find that this added together time is very meaningful and valuable.

3.) Skip the Bus:
If schedules permit, perhaps pick a day or two a week that you drive your kids to and/or from school instead of them taking the bus. This will give you some alone time to get caught up on what is going on in your child’s life.

4.) Listen:
Hopefully, the suggestions above have provided some focused time together. Now that you have the time, make it a point to do more listening than speaking. In addition, try very hard to not interrupt, judge, or highjack the conversation. You learn way more by listening than speaking. This will also encourage your child to share more about what is going on in their life. They will also know that it is “safe” for them to share anything that they are feeling or experiencing.

5.) Open & Safe Line of Communications:
Parents definitely want and need to know about what is going on in their child’s life. Children need to know that they can share what is going on in their world with their parents. Parents have to let their child know that they will be available for support and to discuss challenging issues and situations that are sure to arise. Middle and high school children are exposed to relationship issues, drugs and alcohol, and other peer pressure related items. Parents with a safe and open line of communication have children that feel comfortable working through these challenges with them.

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Dr. Lena Pearlman is the clinical director and head therapist at Dr. Lena Pearlman & Associates. The practice specializes in stress, anxiety, depression and relationships. Dr. Pearlman and her team of eight therapists provide therapy and counseling services for children, teens, adults, couples and families in their Creve Coeur, Missouri office. More information is available by phone: 314-942-1147, by email: bryan@stlmentalhealth.com or online: www.STLmentalhealth.com. The office is located at: 655 Craig Road, Suite 300, St. Louis, MO 63141.

Dr. Lena Pearlman, LCSW, St. Louis Mental Health