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Four Tips To Encourage Healthy Family Discussions

In every household, ideas and decisions tend to clash, creating a strain or tension among family members. When problems arise, you can always expect for heated arguments and raised voices to follow, and that kind of environment at home is never healthy for anyone. In fact, a 2012 study revealed that children who succumbed and witnessed constant fighting at home have higher chances of developing behavioral problems, anxiety, and depression later in life.

In order to avoid constant, negative bickering at home, there are a number of ways to follow to encourage healthy family discussions. So whether you’ve scheduled one or decided to have a casual family discussion during dinner, here are a few tips to follow to prevent tempers from flaring and reach a compromise that works for both parties:

Establish A Few Ground Rules

The likelihood of someone losing patience and saying things they don’t mean during a family discussion is always a possibility. You shouldn’t encourage this kind of behavior by reciprocating with an equally nasty remark. In fact, before you even start a family discussion, establish a few ground rules first so that everyone will get a chance to voice out their opinion on the matter more openly. Here are a few useful ones:

a. Do not interrupt when someone is talking.

b. Side comments or snarky remarks aren’t allowed.

c. No one is allowed to raise their voices.

With these, you, as a parent, can easily establish order and encourage a peaceful environment to have the discussion. Of course, these rules might not work all the time, but be there to correct any misbehavior and do so in a calm manner.

Watch What You Say And How You Say It

Usually, the deciding factor on how a family discussion is going to end is dependent on how parents start the conversation. Do you start on a positive note and slowly ease in and introduce the problem at hand? Do you have a relaxed and comfortable demeanor as you’re talking to your kids? Or do you start the conversation by playing the blame game with your voice raised and your face red from anger? Obviously, the latter is the wrong approach. Remember that negativity begets negativity. If you start shouting, everyone else will follow suit, and nothing good can ever come out of that. So, handle the family discussion in a strict yet calm manner, and make sure to reiterate the ground rules before starting.

Include Everyone In The Family When Necessary

When you hide the truth from select members of the family, it will create distrust. What’s worse is that lies can spread and will only worsen familial tensions and put a strain on the relationship. So, during family discussions, make sure to include every member of the family — whether or not your children are still toddlers, teens, or adults. But make sure that the topics to be discussed are age-appropriate. In case you want to bring forward something that is too sensitive for younger ears, reserve that discussion for another time with only the adults in the family.

Respect That Each Member Has Different Opinions and Ideas

A family discussion is one way of encouraging openness and providing an avenue for everyone to voice out their concerns regarding certain issues. Thus, expect for ideas to clash, but instead of showing favor to one that you agree with — or worse, go for what you think is right without considering everyone else — listen to what every family member has to say about the matter. You might all come up with a solution that works for everyone or agree to a compromise that won’t hurt someone else. Never invalidate a member’s idea just because they’re too young or inexperienced. If you respect your kids’ ideas and opinion, they will be more encouraged to be more open to you which will, in turn, promote a healthy family relationship.

Understanding and patience should be key values to incorporate during family discussions. Never fight fire with fire and always keep a cool head when starting discussions. In fact, try and keep things light by injecting humor once in a while. This will help banish tension and encourage a healthier discussion. Whether you follow one or all of these tips, just bear in mind that you should approach every discussion with an open heart.

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