Healthy Communication

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Additional Resources:

For conversations with younger children:

For conversations with older children/teens:

As children are exposed to new ideas and experiences, it can be hard to know what to say. Nobody has all of the answers, but what’s most important is to keep your conversations going.

Your children are always watching and learning from you because they respect you and look up to you. One child development expert said, “Kids hear about 1% of what we say and 100% of what we do.”1

Healthy family communication permits family members to express love and admiration for one another — their needs, wants, concerns, and their differences. It includes verbal and nonverbal ways to exchange information as well as the ability to pay attention to what others are thinking and feeling.

Clear, open, honest, and frequent communication is a basic characteristic of a strong, healthy family. In fact, families that communicate in healthy ways are more capable of problem-solving and tend to be more satisfied with their relationships.2 Also, how and what parents and/or adult caregivers communicate about body image, peer pressure, puberty, reproduction, sexuality, love, and intimacy can make a significant difference in the well-being and health of their children. Research indicates strong family relationships can help children develop healthy self-esteem, resist peer pressure, and act responsibly when making decisions about drugs, violence, and sexual intercourse.3

You know the basics. Now go deeper into the conversation with How Do I Prepare? Part 2

1. Rich, M.O. (2014). Communicating with your teen: Avoiding the “should do” (video). In Reaching teens: Strength-based communication strategies to build resilience and support healthy adolescent development. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics.

2. Peterson, R. & Green, S. (2009). Families first: Keys to successful family functioning: Communication. Blacksburg, VA: Virginia Cooperative Extension.

3.Advocates for Youth (n.d.). {link: http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/publications/590-introduction-parent-child-communication-basics}Introduction: Parent-child communication basics.