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Effective Family Communication

by Nicola on 2013-08-18

Effective Family Communication

Dr Nicola Davies


Family communication is a critical, but often neglected, component of Inuit families. Your ability to communicate, openly coupled with compassion, is critical for the well-being of your family. This capability often becomes a lifeline not only for parents, but also for children who may face situations that might alter their lives in some way.

Here are a few important pointers to guide you in building healthy communication:

  • Be available: It is important that you spend even as little as 10 minutes with your family. Take your time to build a rapport with them. Improved communication encourages satisfaction. Your child will be able to talk about his or her problems with you if you show that you are available. Give your undivided attention for that small space of time, and you will get an insight into your child’s life.
  • Offer sensitivity: This is an important aspect of any kind of communication within families. You need to understand behaviours that affect a member of your family because this will reflect on their interests, feelings or concerns.
  • Listen carefully: Listening is a great skill, but listening carefully is better. When your child is telling you about his or her issues, you should listen to them with great attention. Unless you know what your child has said, how will you address the issue?
  • Offer understanding: You can think of this as an objective approach followed by an interpersonal approach. While following an objective approach you can ask questions and also provide information. However, the interpersonal approach should include care and compassion. Show respect towards their feelings. Try to look for any non-verbal behaviour like gestures, posture or eye contact. Silence is also important in such situations so that ample time is given to settle any emotional upheaval. For example, if you’ve asked, “Why doesn’t your friend trust you?” you must give your child time to reflect over this and come up with an honest answer.
  • Be empathetic: Usually, families who have a very busy life tend to exhibit less empathy (understanding from another’s pint of view) towards other family members. Belittling, or not respecting their feelings, will further push them into solitude. Empathy has an effect on the quality of family satisfaction. If you are empathetic, more family members will come to you to address personal problems or problems within the family. This in turn will increase healthy communication and reduce future difficulties.
  • Find a mentor: If you feel that you don’t have the appropriate communication skills, you can get the help of a psychologist. Non-medical mentors like child psychologists or family therapists can help you in developing these skills, which in turn helps your family.
  • Practice what you preach: Are you a role model for your family? No one can be absolutely perfect, but you need to send your messages correctly. For example, when your child has bullied his sibling, you can’t just laugh and say, “No, that is wrong.” This is a confusing message because the child won’t really understand whether you condone this is or not. You should be very clear in both your actions and your speech. This isn’t about punishment or getting angry, but about offering your child an explanation – possibly through morality games such as those described in the previous chapter.
  • Avoid interviews: If you are simply asking family members to answer questions they may feel like they are on trial. They may also think that you lack interest in their feelings. This further escalates withdrawal and members may become reluctant to share their personal feelings with you. Sharing your viewpoints and also inviting others to contribute their viewpoints in a family discussion should always be welcomed rather than questioned. It is not necessary to have lengthy discussions, but it’s the usefulness of the meeting that counts.
  • Patience is the key: Often, parents become frustrated, and, after listening to the problems of their children, they lose their patience. This is normal - you are human after all!  What you need to do in such situations is to calm yourself before talking to your children. You can practice meditation for five minutes, or just wait for your feelings to settle before talking to your child. Instead of venting your frustrations on your child, it is better you share it with your spouse first as they can help you regain focus.


Parents and children who have not been treated with respect and whose fears are still unaddressed will always feel unhappy. Lack of communication is one of the most common issues that wreck a family. Understanding everybody’s thoughts and feelings within a family helps bring forth a feeling of confidence in the family. Demonstrating empathy and respect towards others is at the core of effective family communication.



Author Bio:

Dr Nicola Davies is a Psychology Consultant and Freelance Writer with an interest in health and well-being.  Her publications can be viewed at Alternatively, you might like to sign up to her free blog:





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