Life Times Newsletter

September/October 2003
Vol. 5, No.5

Positive communication can strengthen families

Communication is an important part of a satisfying parent-child relationship. Adult-child interactions affect all family relationships. Therefore, effective communication is a basic building block for strong families.

To be able to understand what’s communicated, a person must listen, decode the message, and then give feedback. This process ensures the receiver understood the message in the same context in which it was sent. Communication includes speaking, writing, reading, listening, understanding and evaluating.

Research suggests that the best parent-child relationships involve a lot of positive communication and interaction. In such relationships, communication happens on a regular basis, not just when there is conflict. Parents’ interactions with their children can be more rewarding when they understand how children of different ages communicate and what topics interest them. Researchers believe that when adults and children stay in touch through attention and conversation, children may be less likely to “act out” or behave in ways that cause conflict or require discipline.

Just as regular communication with children creates satisfying parent-child relationships, adults who take time to really listen and learn about each other discover ways to more effectively communicate with other adults. We are all shaped by a number of factors, including ethnic background, religion, class, race, age, profession, places where we have lived, life experiences, and many other individual and group influences. The best communication happens as we discover, respect, and respond to the individual uniqueness of the person with whom we are communicating.

Here are some tips to help improve communication:

By taking steps to improve your communication skills, you will be more likely to increase the number of positive interactions with those around you. This can help to strengthen your family and to improve your quality of life.

Source: Adapted from Building Strong Families curriculum, University of Missouri Extension.

To learn more about communicating with kids of different ages: see guide sheet #GH 6123, Communicating Effectively with Children. Available online at or in print from your local Extension office.

Teresa L. Mareschal, MAT
Human Development Specialist

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University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller