Communication in the family

There are few better ways to communicate than dialogue.

[Bożena Walter]

All living beings in the world communicate. Without communication, no life would be exist – neither plants, nor animals, nor any society. Why? Because communication process is hardwired into life. A human being is the only entity in nature, whose upbringing in society is necessary for proper mental development. Consequently, he needs interpersonal relationships and principles that will maintain relationships. Since relationships have such a meaning, good communication is also essential. So where should we draw the best examples of interpersonal communication?

Are our families again a source of inspiration?

Yes, we parents are personal models. We provide patterns of behaviour to children and introduce them into the system of values and social norms. Therefore, communication is an integral part of family life. In a well-functioning family, every member has the right to speak. They also have the right to express their feelings and emotions. Good communication is a condition for the successful implementation of the tasks set by each family. Thanks to expressing one’s thoughts openly, everyone in the family can feel like a valuable person. It also lets us meet our needs because we can express them openly.

Family is also a system

Communication in the family is the way in which individual members of the family communicate with each other. It is the sum of interactions of activities, behaviours, verbal and non-verbal communication. A family is a kind of system with a network of interrelations between its members: mother and child, father and child, and between siblings. Sometimes other family members, such as grandparents, can join in. The interaction between individual family members is of circular character, i.e. one person influences the other and consequently the other family members. However, the most important people in the family, who are the first model of mutual communication, are us – parents. When children appear, they enter the system and take over the communication style from us.

Parents’ communication

Communication in a relationship involves the exchange of information about needs, feelings, life plans, experiences, daily matters, and many other topics. Whether your communication is smooth or not – is represented in the degree of trust in your partner, the degree of engagement in the relationship and the emotional climate of your relationship. Good communication is one in which the messages are clear and meaningful for both sides who try to understand each other. It’s about positive and neutral messages, as well as those that are the most difficult to pass on to the person we care about. It’s about positive and neutral messages, as well as those that are the most difficult to pass on to the person we care about. You should remember, however, that :

Two monologues do not make a dialogue.

[Jeff Daly]

Communication is also a process…

A continuous process that evolves over time, depending on the changes we experience, our life experiences, the values of our relationships and life events.

All relationships, without exception, go through minor or major problems and crises. This is a natural consequence of two different people living together. However, the difference between a successful relationship is that its members, by developing effective communication, want to solve problems. Not talking about the problem will not make it disappear.

Numbing the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it.

[J.K. Rowling]

Lack of good communication not only makes it impossible to solve problems, but also contributes to their generation. What’s more, our mental condition deteriorates significantly when we lose or break ties between our loved ones. Problems with communication in a relationship or in the whole family system are unfortunately quite a common problem. Why is it so? What is the reason? People who make up a relationship bring in two distinct ways of communication that are largely inherited from their families. The confrontation of two different communication systems can result in different scenarios in life.

What can we do to ensure that our communication systems do not cause problems in our families?

As mentioned earlier, communication in the family system is circular, which means that each of us influences the rest. This mainly concerns the process in which we – parents communicate. This determines the way we communicate with our children. The dominant style of communication between parents is also used in conversations with children. Since children absorb our style of communication, we should constantly work on it in order to equip our children for the future in a language that will not block them, but will give them a chance for self-development.

Communication is a skill that you can learn. It’s like riding a bicycle or typing. If you are willing to work on it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every part of your life.

[Brian Tracy]

1. Avoid phrases that assess the nature or abilities of the child.

The language that helps us to reach out to another person does not judge and does not assign roles.

When we avoid negative words, such as. stupid, clumsy, naughty, malicious, but also positive ones e.g. wonderful, beautiful, fantastic – we help our child to see who they really are. Instead, you can describe what you see or feel.

Example 1.1

When a child has built something out of blocks, comes excited to us and says: “Mummy, daddy, see what castle I built”. Go to look at it and try to describe what you see, e.g.:. ‘I can see two towers surrounding the entrance gate and some castle walls. When I’m looking at the front part of your building, I can really imagine life in this castle.

The son answers: ‘Maybe I’ll build the rest of the castle’.

If we came and only praised the work of the child (ability assessment), e.g. ‘Oh, what a wonderful castle you built’, probably he would not finish it.

Also avoid expressions that assign roles to children.

Example 1.2

Your child considers himself to be a lazy person, as we often tell him: ‘ You are such a lazy person, you do nothing, you just sit and play games on the phone or watch TV’.

Pointing out mistakes to the child will not improve his or her behaviour. Calling children e.g. lazy can make them behave in this way – after all, that’s how my parents see me, so probably it’s true. Making a diagnosis may cause an illness.

It can be helpful to treat a child as if they were already what we want them to be.

If your goal is to make your child see and believe they are not lazy, assure them of it every time they do something.

Your child helped you with Saturday’s housework. You can say, for example: ‘Oh, I see that you are fullfilling our arrangements for Saturday’s housework. This is hard work.’

Or in a different way – whatever your imagination tells us.

2. Words that describe what we see also encourage us to find our own solution.

Example 2.1

Your daughter broke a glass. Instead of a comment expressing your assessment and assigning a role: ‘Oh, clumsy you! You never think what you are doing”, you could say, e.g: ‘Oh, the glass has broken…’, and give your daughter a broom and a dustpan to clean the mess.

In this way we avoid blaming our children and we emphasize what is important – that is, what the child should do in a given situation. Blaming your daughter would not make her look for a solution but rather take a defensive approach. Probably you have heard something like:. ‘It was Jack who pushed me, it’s his fault…’.

3. Express emotions in a human way.

Saying that something pleases us or makes us happy is not as difficult as saying that we are angry, disappointed, upset by something. All our emotions can always be expressed in words, without harming or stifling the people we care about. Our sincere anger is one of the strongest agents for changing our behaviour, so remember about the human dimension of anger. Express anger with words that do not attack people’s personalities.

Example 3.1

We enter the child’s room and see a mess. Instead of accusing: ‘Oh my! You’re such a slob!’, describe what you see and feel.

For example: ‘Well, I’m really angry with what I see. The place for clothes is in the wardrobe and for books on the shelf.’.

If we used insults, the child would probably clean up the room, but would also feel resentment towards the parent and keep in his mind an unflattering opinion about himself.

4. If a child makes a mistake, try not to judge.

Instead find out what he thinks about it. Does he know where he made the mistake? What can he do to fix it? Judging provokes a defensive rather than a problem-solving approach.

To make sure that our love serves our children, learn to put it into words!

Words that assess inhibit the child’s development, while words that describe them release their potential. If a child is given the opportunity to communicate openly with their parents, they feel safe. When faced with difficulties in life, he or she is happy to share them with parents in order to get support and help. Such system will most probable be applied in his or her family in adult life.

There are no regrets in life, just lessons.

[Jennifer Aniston]


We will be very pleased if you spend your time watching the upcoming edition of our blog next week. We will look at the factors that strengthen the self-esteem of our children.


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