Communication is an integral part of any relationship. It allows an individual to let other people know about his thoughts and feelings. If a child can easily approach his parents about certain issues, he may be inclined to make better choices in life. And as much as we want our children to openly communicate with us, we may be sending them the wrong signals.

Here are some basic guidelines on how to promote healthy communication lines with your child or even the entire family:

1. Allocate some time each day to talk to your child. Ten minutes of your time may not seem long, but as long as you give your child your undivided attention, it can really enforce good communication habits. If this is practiced regularly, your child will get the impression that you are always available to talk about even usual everyday things.

2. Practice active listening. When your child tells you something, always make sure that your television is turned off, or you are not doing anything else. Even if his concerns may seem small, he needs to feel that he is valued. Remember, you can still be a good listener even if you don’t agree to what your child may be saying.

3. Try to be a good role model. Your child can easily pick up your words, and even the tone of your voice depending on the situation. Try not to send conflicting messages by practicing what you preach.

4. Keep in mind that there is a proper time and place to talk to your child. If your child behaved inappropriately, it may be best to wait out until you have settled down. Do not embarrass your child by correcting him in front of many people. This may only lead to resentment or even hostility. Your child deserves respect, and it may be good to talk to him in private.

5. Show empathy. If your child approaches you for something, it may already be an indication that he needs your support. If your child is upset, allow him to express how he feels, and don’t belittle his emotions. Show your support and make him feel that you understand why he is feeling that way.

6. Always consider your child’s developmental stage when communicating. If you need to talk to a young child, you need to make sure that you keep things simple, and that you are clear in what you are trying to convey. Make sure that you explain things in ways that your child will understand.

7. Don’t take for granted non-verbal ways of connecting. In communicating, an individual’s non-verbal cues can mean a lot. Even without saying anything, your child’s actions, gestures, mannerisms or facial expressions can already show his emotions. Use these as cues on how you can respond to your child. You may also need to use non-verbal ways of connecting like giving your child a hug, or even a gentle touch to show that you care.

Effective communication is very important for a family. It not only keeps families strong, but it also allows parents to get involved with their child’s life. In trying to have open communication lines at home, you are bound to encounter challenges. However, good communication is not something that just occurs naturally in a family, but it is more of a goal that can be attained through hard work, patience, understanding, and unconditional love.