4 Ways Parents Can Improve Communication with Their Children

Actionable Ways Parents Can Improve Communication with Their Children

While communicating with your child may seem difficult, it is the most important thing you can do to help them stay away from substance abuse and other addictions.


As a parent, we want nothing more than to protect our children from the dangers of the world around them.

To do this, it is important to keep the lines of communication between you and your child open at all times. Many parents find that as their children get older, they become more distant and independent. They make friends and prefer to spend time with them than with their parents.

While independence is an important step in growing up, it is still important to practice good communication skills with your child to help them cope with things that they see and hear throughout their lives.

1. Watch What They Watch

Be honest: how often do you sit down and watch the television shows and movies your children are watching? Entertainment media is full of messages about drugs, alcohol, sex, or violence. Some are more overt in the display of these messages earning them a stricter rating than those who hide the messages within the storyline. If your children are watching television or a movie, join them.

Watch what they are watching and ask questions either during commercials or at the end of the film. Find out why they like the movie, what their favorite part was, who their favorite character is, or just what they thought of the overall message. By opening a discussion, you are giving your child an opportunity to ask any questions they may have.

This doesn't just have to be with entertainment media. If you watch the news in your home, your child is likely seeing all of the things that are happening around the world. These stories can affect them without them even being fully aware. If a particular story has caught your child's attention, ask them about it. Ask what they think about what happened or how the story made them feel.

These conversations will give you insight into how your child feels about certain events as well as how they would handle it if they were in a similar situation. Remember that no matter what their answer, you should never express anger toward them. If their answer is one you don't feel comfortable with, take that time to address any issues in a calm and collected manner. Keep in mind, they are still developing their view of the world and need your guidance in making the correct choices.

2. Encourage Honesty

We all know that old saying that honesty is the best policy.

That is especially true with kids, but can be incredibly hard on parents. Imagine if your child told you they did something like steal, what would your reaction be? Would you get upset? Would you punish them? Most likely, every parent reading this is saying yes in one way or another. What if punishing them could actually lead to the end of your healthy communication skills?

Most children and teenagers are afraid to tell their parents when they have done something wrong. It is usually more because they don't want to disappoint you than the fear of punishment.

One of the best ways to keep the lines of communication open with your child as they get older is to talk them through what they are telling you and react in a calm and collected manner. Discuss the potential consequences of their actions with them rather than yelling or grounding them. By allowing these open discussions, your child will be more likely to come to you with issues in the future.

This doesn't mean condoning the behavior. You will still need to correct the behavior or activity that your child is involved in but, you want to make sure they know you are not punishing them for telling you. You are disciplining them for doing what they did. Commend them for being honest and help them get back on the right path.

3. Listen, Listen, Listen

As parents, we always want to jump into action when our children tell us things. Sometimes, the best approach is to sit and listen as they talk about whatever it is they need to get off their chest. Rather than jumping to their rescue or to discipline them, help them talk it through until they come up with a better solution than they originally considered.

Many children are faced with peer pressure everywhere they turn, which can cause plenty of stress and anxiety. This pressure can lead to the use of drugs or alcohol as well as viewing pornography or participating in sexual acts at far too young an age.

By giving your child the ability to come to you with these issues and having you help them determine the right course of action for themselves, you are helping them to fully learn the difference between right and wrong and how to stay on the right path.

If your child is struggling with a situation that they are unable to get out of on their own, offer them the help they need. Many young adults fall into the traps of addiction to pornography or even sex and drugs at a young age. These are situations that may require your guidance to get them the help or counseling that they need.

4. Ask Meaningful Questions

In many cases, it is not uncommon for the communication between you and your child to have deteriorated slightly as they have aged. The teenage phase can be hard on both the child and the parent. However, to protect your child, it is important to work to rebuild those lines of communication. There are a number of ways of improving family communication from following your child cues to asking questions in a specific manner.

When your child comes home from school, you probably ask if they have homework and how their day was. How often do you get a one or two-word answer and they disappear into their room? If you ask open-ended questions, you are more likely to get a meaningful response. Instead of asking "Did you have a good day?", ask "What did you do today?". This type of question gently forces the child to respond with a more detailed answer which will give you more insight into their life.

Pay attention to their cues. Conversational cues will differ slightly by age, but they are mostly consistent. Younger children may start to give silly or goofy answers when they are done with a conversation while older children will begin to zone out. Even though you may have a million more questions you would like to ask, it is important to follow your child's cues and put the conversation on hold until a later date. Forcing a conversation that they are no longer interested in having, will only serve to push them further away.

If your communication with your child has been strained, it is important to start off slowly. You can't go from barely talking to having in-depth conversations about their friends and personal life.

You need to ease into it no matter how hard that may be for you. Start the communication with asking things that may seem silly or unimportant.

For example, you are stuck on what to make for dinner as a side dish. Asking your child what they think would go well with the main course will open that communication channel ever so slightly. It also shows them that you value their opinion.

Communicating with your child may prove to be difficult on occasion but, you should never give up. Strong, healthy communication skills between parent and child can make a difference in the child's life. Strained communication can lead to poor choices, undiagnosed mental health issues and even addictions. Let your child know you care by keeping the communication open between the two of you.

Popular Right Now

18 Times Kate Middleton Was Actually All Of Us In College, Beside The Princess Thing

Every girl has to go through her clueless college stage before she reaches Duchess status.

Kate Middleton is basically a household name by now, and how could this not be the case when she has the gorgeous hair, kind smile, and incredible fashion sense. With her constantly in the spotlight looking so put together, we sometimes forget that the Duchess was actually all of us in college!

Here are 18 times that Kate proved she was just like all of us.

1. Going all out in the name of school spirit

There is nothing like breaking out the war paint and screaming for your home team. Like Kate, we all love to get a little messy and make some memories with our friends.

2. Hanging out with the roomies

Some people may not get lucky in this area but for those who are best friends with their roommates, they understand the love. It's a dream come true for everyone who has always wanted to live with their best friends. It's like a sleepover that never ends.

3. Dressing up cute on the first day of school...

You got to make a good first impression on your way to school. Whether it's during your 7 A.M or 4 P.M., it's always best to dress to impress.

4. ...and wearing yoga pants for the rest of the year

And this goes all the way until the last week of school when you don't bother getting out of bed to wear pants at all.

5. Going grocery shopping and throwing in cookies, ice-cream, and every type of Pringles because your mom isn't there to say no

You'll probably regret that in a few months when the Freshman Fifteen kicks in.

6. Walking for miles from your car to your dorm carrying groceries

We can't park by the apartment for a solid five minutes to carry our groceries up to the kitchen or we will risk a ticket, but we can walk a few miles carrying food that gets heavier, and heavier, and heavier with every step.

7. Going out for a night on the town on a Friday night

Dancing, laughter, and fun? Everyone in college has been to a party or two. It's a classic part of the college experience. Sometimes you just need a distraction from all the essays and tests.

8. Being so late to class you threw on whatever your hands grabbed next

We've all been there. Our alarm doesn't go off, we press snooze a few too many times, or forget to even set an alarm and next thing you know we are running around the dorm room like Taz from Looney Toons. You throw on whatever, then run to class.

Unfortunately 9/10 times our outfits don't turn out. Although, Kate can certainly pull off this look, no matter how mismatched.

9. Pretending your walking to the same building as the cute boy you met so you have the excuse to keep talking to him

I am very guilty of doing this. Although I missed my class, at least I got to talk to the really cute boy who has class at 9:45 in the STEM building. It was worth it.

10. Sitting on the floor or standing because you're a poor college student who can't afford chairs or tables

Eating on the floor? Always. Being a college kid is tough and sometimes you have to sacrifice some things to obtain the others. Such as choosing chocolate milk and Halo Top over vegetables and hair conditioner.

Judging by Kate's beautiful locks, she chose the conditioner.

Probably the vegetables too.

We should just all follow her example.

11. Going on cute date with the boy you followed to class-turned-boyfriend

Now my short-lived romance may not have extended farther than us talking and walking to his class, but Kate and William obviously had a better ending. Nevertheless, college is the place to grow and date and possibly find the one.

12. Keeping your hair long and growing because you can't afford to get it cut

Don't trust your roommate. No matter how many times she begs you to let her cut it. Don't.

13. Turning 21 and getting dressed up and going out with your best friends

While this one probably doesn't apply to Kate, since you can drink at age 18 in most countries, all my people in the United States know the sweet freedom of turning 21. It's an iconic time in a students life and marks a huge milestone as well.

14. Passing out flyers for some type of movement or protest

Everyone wants to be a part of something bigger - which is why college is the time to stand up for what you believe in. May that be RedforEd, Planned Parenthood, anti-Abortion, Trump, the Wall, pizza bagels, it's all an exercise of the first amendment.

15. Ranting to your friends about the professor that just "doesn't understand you"

You know your thinking about that professor right now as you read this. And you know that that's your reaction whenever they give you a bad grade or say something you disagree with at the tiniest degree.

16. Getting glammed-up for those senior photos

Pick out your best outfit and make sure it's a good hair day because everyone will be viewing these photos forever... and in Kate's place that is more than true. Luckily she looks as gorgeous as ever. Does she ever have a bad hair day?

17. Walking out of your last class knowing you'll never have to write a single paper again

And purposefully not thinking about how you will be going into the real world in less than a few days.

18. When you've graduated and realized you have no idea what you're going to do with your life

Maybe a prince will be right around the corner to sweep you off your feet so you won't have to figure your life out.
Cover Image Credit: Laura Warshauer

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The Football World Loses One Of Its Finest Players

Bart Starr passed away and NFL players, coaches, and fans all mourn the loss of the Packer legend, but his life and career will live on in hearts of Packer nation forever.


Bart Starr passed away at the age of 85 in Birmingham, Alabama. The NFL lost a great player. The Green Bay Packers lost a hero. And, the world lost a true gentleman. Starr's legacy has surpassed his accomplishments on the gridiron. He inspired not only his peers but the generations that have come after him. He is — and always — will be remembered as a Hall of Famer, a champion, and a Packer.

Bart Starr was a Packers legend. Starr led Green Bay to six division titles and five world championships. As the quarterback of Vince Lombardi's offense, he kept the machine going and executed the plays like no other. His mastery of the position was a large part of the Packers success in the 1960s. Starr was also the perfect teammate for the perfect team. His leadership put him in command of the Packers. Starr's time in Green Bay will not be forgotten by former players, coaches, and the fans.

Bart Starr's resume is rivaled by few in NFL history. He played in 10 postseason games and won 9 of them. He led the Packers to victory in Super Bowls I and II and won the MVP award in both games. He was the MVP of the league in 1966 and was named to the NFL All-Decade Team of the 1960s. The Packers retired his number 15 and Starr has been inducted into the Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After his playing days, Starr would become the head coach of the Packers. He could not repeat the success he had on the field from the 1960s teams. His coaching years do not take away from his legacy as one of the all-time great Packers. Starr was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

One of Starr's last visits to Lambeau field was on a cold November night in 2015. Starr and his wife attended a ceremony in which the Packers retired Brett Favre's jersey number. Starr was the perfect personification of what it meant to be a Packer. His most heroic moment came in the 1967 NFL Championship Game. The Ice Bowl came down to a third and goal in Lambeau Field's south endzone against the Dallas Cowboys. Starr came to the sidelines and bravely told Vince Lombardi that he can sneak it in for a game-winning touchdown. Lombardi then replied, "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here." Starr ran a quarterback sneak for the game-winner and the Packers were off to Super Bowl II. Without Starr, Green Bay would not have won a second straight Super Bowl. His leadership in big game moments will live with Packers fans for a lifetime.

Vince Lombardi: A Football Life - The Ice Bowl

Starr leaves behind his wife Cherry, his son, and three granddaughters. Packers fans will have a tight grip on the memories Bart Starr and the 60s teams created. Starr left behind a template for being a Green Bay Packer. He also left a template for being a good man and a gentleman of the game of football. He was a competitor and a leader. Packer nation mourns for the loss of one of the finest human beings the game has seen.

Related Content

Facebook Comments