Improve Communication for a Strong Family


June 3, 2024, 8:56 am | Hailey Walker

AMES, Iowa – When families are busy with their daily activities it’s easy to overlook the importance of good communication. But at the heart of every strong family lies a foundation built on open, honest and meaningful communication, says Hailey Walker, a human sciences specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

Families often face a variety of barriers to effective communication, including a lack of time and an abundance of technology distractions.

“Improving family communication requires intentional effort and commitment from all members. Let’s break down what this means,” Walker said.

Walker shared some practical ways to improve family communication:

  • Family having a discussion, sitting on sofa by WavebreakMediaMicro/stock.adobe.com.Talk and listen. Effective communication involves both talking and listening. Express your thoughts and feelings, but also take the time to listen to others. When family members feel heard, trust and understanding grow. Create opportunities for regular communication by routinely scheduling family meetings, meals or activities where everyone can participate and share.
  • Address conflicts calmly. Conflicts are normal, but how we handle conflicts matters. Instead of blaming each other, focus on finding solutions. Be respectful and work together to resolve disagreements. For examples, review “Stop, Breathe, Talk” from the Science of Parenting.
  • Be honest and transparent. A family that values honesty creates a safe space for everyone. Encourage open dialogue where family members can share their thoughts and feelings authentically.
  • Set boundaries with technology. Technology can be a distraction. During family time, consider limiting screen use for everyone. Face-to-face interactions are essential for building strong connections.
  • Seek professional help if needed. Sometimes communication challenges persist. Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from family therapists or counselors. They can provide strategies to improve communication.

“Remember, family communication is an ongoing journey, unique to each family. By recognizing its importance, identifying common barriers and implementing practical strategies, we can create a nurturing environment where every family member’s voice is heard and valued,” Walker said.

For more valuable parenting insights, check out the Science of Parenting at scienceofparenting.org. Visit Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s website for additional parenting resources.

Photo credit: WavebreakMediaMicro/stock.adobe.com

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