Lighting the way to a better future a domestic violence prevention program for churches

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After a couple becomes parents, communication becomes increasingly important. Parents are often under a lot of stress, and they are at risk for neglecting their relationship, when in fact the relationship between parents may be the most important relationship in the family. Keeping the lines of communication open is not always easy. All couples, at one time or another, have trouble communicating. This is especially true when the stress of parenting is considered. Communication takes work, but it is worth the investment.

This handout contains some important information parents should know about communication. Knowing how to communicate effectively, and also knowing what gets in the way of effective communication are important not only to the relationship between parents, but to their children, too. As children get older they learn how to communicate by watching their parents. Therefore, parents must be effective communicators so their children will learn this important skill, too.


Spending time together as a couple is very important for any relationship. Time, however, is not always easy to find when there are children involved. Therefore, parents should make a special effort to set aside special time to spend together. If time can't be found every day, that's okay. What's important is that parents regularly schedule time to be together. This can be every day, every other day, or once a week - whatever works for the parents. This special time can be spent talking together, taking part in some activity together, or doing anything else that interests both parents. What's important is that this time is spent communicating in some way. Special time together is not going to just happen. It must be planned for and protected by both parents. One to one time is very important to keep the lines of communication open.

Communicating Effectively

Another important part of communication between parents is learning how to do so effectively. If parents do not communicate effectively, they will more than likely pass on ineffective ways of communicating to their children.

*To communicate effectively, words must equal actions. For example, if one parent is telling the other that he or she is not mad, but has an angry look on his or her face, is using an angry tone of voice and is standing with his or her hands clenched in fists, words do not equal actions, and effective communication is not taking place. When parents do this, they are sending mixed messages. Parents should be honest about their feelings. If they are angry they should find appropriate ways to express their anger.

*Touch is an excellent way to communicate nonverbally. A pat on the back or a hug is a great way to show appreciation to either a spouse or a child.

*Attending and listening are two very important skills to have for effective communication. Attending means giving complete attention to the person doing the talking. This can be done by stopping all other activities, looking the talker in the eyes, and by not saying a word. Listening means paying close attention to what is being said, not only through the speaker's words, but through body language, too.

*Giving and asking for feedback helps head off miscommunication. Giving feedback means repeating to the speaker what you heard him or her say to make sure you got the message as it was intended to be received. Asking for feedback is a way of insuring that the listener received your message as you intended it to be received.
Finally, listed below are some things that both help and hinder effective communication.


Instead of this…


Try this…

*Accusing, blaming, putting down. These types of statements put the respondent on the defensive, which encourages more of the same. For example, "You are such a slob. You always leave your clothes on the floor."

*"I" statements. Instead of finger pointing, state your thoughts and feelings in terms of yourself. For example, "I feel angry when you leave your dirty clothes on the floor."

*Interrupting. Interruptions can break the speaker’s train of thought.

*Listening. Listen to what the speaker is saying. Wait for natural pauses in the conversation before speaking.

*Overgeneralizing and catastrophizing. This includes statements like, "You always…" and "You never…"

*Making qualifying statements. Try using phrases like, "Sometimes, you…" and "Maybe…"

*Lecturing and preaching. These types of communication will quickly turn off the person being spoken to.

*Making brief, to the point, statements. Such statements will allow for give and take required for effective communication.

*Sarcasm. The use of sarcasm can be hurtful to the person being spoken to. Sarcasm has no place in effective communication.

*Showing respect. Try to show respect and understanding for the other person’s point of view. You can disagree but explain your concerns.

*Not making eye contact. This may send the wrong message to someone you’re speaking with.

*Making eye contact. This will send the message that you’re interested, listening, and involved.

*Mind reading. Try to avoid telling someone else what they feel or think. You may be wrong.

*Reflecting and validating. Tell the person with whom you’re speaking what you’re hearing and how you’re interpreting what’s being said. Ask for clarification.

*Commanding and/or threatening. Commands and/or threats are rarely effective. They often put the person being spoken to on the defensive.

*Suggesting alternative solutions. Try to work together to come up with solutions that are acceptable to both parties. Ask for feedback on possible solutions.

*Dwelling on the past. Once a problem or conflict is solved, don’t repeatedly bring it up in future conflicts. Parents should allow one another to start over with a clean slate.

*Sticking to the present and future. Focus on the specific issue of concern.

*Monopolizing the conversation. Don’t do all the talking. Both parties must make significant contributions to the discussion to facilitate effective communication.

*Taking turns talking. Ask for the other person’s opinions on the issue if they are reluctant to talk. 

*Remaining silent. Communication that is effective will not take place unless both parties participate.

*Talking. Express your feelings, even if they’re negative.

*Saying whatever comes to mind. Try to edit what you say, so that you do not deliberately hurt the person to whom you are speaking.

*Following the rules of common courtesy. Try to be polite and courteous to the person to whom you are speaking, no matter how heated conversations may get.

*Yes-butting. Try not to find something wrong with every suggestion the person to whom you are speaking makes.

*Listening. Try to understand the other person’s point of view. You don’t necessarily have to agree with everything the other person says, but you should make an attempt at understanding others’ viewpoints.

*Cross complaining. Try not to state one of your own complaints in response to a complaint the other speaker makes.

*Making an agenda. Try making a list of the complaints that come up in conversation, and deal with them one at a time. Add new complaints to the list as they come up.

Center for Effective Parenting, Little Rock Center: (501) 364-7580,NW Arkansas Center: (479) 751-6166

Written by Kristen Zolten, M.A. and Nicholas Long, PhD, Department of Pediatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Artwork by Scott Snider, © 1997

La Comunicación Entre Los Padres
(Parental Communication)

Una vez que las parejas se convierten en padres, la comunicación es sumamente importante. Los padres a menudo están bajo mucha presión, y corren el riesgo de descuidar su relación, siendo que esta relación puede que sea la más importante en la familia. No es siempre fácil mantener abiertas las líneas de comunicación. Todas las parejas, alguna que otra vez, tienen problemas comunicándose. Este es el caso especialmente cuando se toma en consideración el estrés. La comunicación toma esfuerzo, pero la inversión vale la pena.

Este folleto contiene información muy importante para los padres acerca de la comunicación. Es importante saber como comunicarse efectivamente y también saber lo que impide la buena comunicación, no solo entre los padres, sino entre los hijos. Conforme los niños crecen, aprenden  como comunicarse observando a los padres.

Así que los padres deben comunicarse bien para que sus hijos aprendan a comunicarse también.


Es muy importante para una relación que las parejas pasen tiempo juntos. Sin embargo, es difícil encontrar tiempo cuando hay hijos de por medio. Así que los padres deben esforzarse para apartar un tiempo y hacer algo especial. Si no hay tiempo diario, no importa. Lo que importa es que hagan planes regularmente para pasar tiempo juntos. Esto puede ser diario, cada tercer día, o una vez a la semana – lo que sea conveniente para ellos. El tiempo lo pueden pasar juntos platicando, tomando parte en alguna actividad o haciendo algo que les interesa a los dos. Lo que importa es que pasen el tiempo comunicándose de alguna manera. Este tiempo especial no va a suceder automáticamente. Debe planearse y cuidarse. El tiempo junto es muy importante para mantener abiertas las líneas de comunicación.

Comunicándose Eficazmente

Otro aspecto muy importante de la comunicación entre los padres es como hacerlo eficazmente. Si los padres no se comunican con eficiencia, es probable que les pasen estas ineficiencias a sus hijos.

*Para comunicarse efectivamente, las palabras deben igualar las acciones. Por ejemplo, si uno de los padres le dice al otro que no está enojado, pero tiene la mirada dura y tiene un tono de voz enojado, y se para con las manos empuñadas, las palabras no corresponden a las acciones, y no existe la comunicación efectiva. Cuando los padres hacen esto, su mensaje es confuso. Ellos deben ser honestos con sus emociones. Si están enojados deben buscar la manera apropiada de expresar su coraje.

*Acariciarse es una manera excelente de comunicarse sin palabras. Una palmadita en la espalda o un abrazo son formas excelentes de demostrar aprecio ya sea a su pareja o a sus hijos

*Poner atención y escuchar son dos hábitos muy importantes para la buena comunicación. Poner atención significa brindar atención completa a la persona que está hablando. Esto se puede lograr parando todas las actividades, mirando a la persona que habla directamente a los ojos, y no decir nada. Escuchar significa poner mucha atención a lo que se dice, no solo por las palabras de quién habla, sino también por la expresión de su cuerpo.

*Expresar y solicitar reacciones ayuda a evitar la mala comunicación. Expresar una reacción quiere decir repetir a quién habla lo que usted ha escuchado para asegurarse de que el mensaje fue recibido de la forma que fue enviado. Pedir por la opinión de otras personas en una manera de asegurarse que quien escucha reciba su mensaje de la manera que usted intentó enviarlo.

Finalmente, a continuación hay una lista de las cosas que ayudan o impiden la buena comunicación.

 Qué NO Hacer…

Qué Hacer…

*Acusar, culpar, humillar. Este tipo de expresiones ponen a las personas a la defensiva, lo que causa más problemas. Por ejemplo, "Eres tan descuidado. Siempre dejas tu ropa en el suelo."

*Expresiones "Yo". En lugar de incriminar, exprese su opinión y sus sentimientos con respecto a usted. Por ejemplo, "Me da coraje cuando dejas tu ropa sucia en el suelo."

*Interrumpir. Las interrupciones pueden disturbar la concentración de la persona que habla.

*Escuche. Escuche lo que la persona dice. Espere por una pausa normal en la conversación para poder hablar.

*Sobregeneralizar y Exagerar. Esto incluye expresiones como, "Tu siempre…" y "Tu nunca…".

*Haga declaraciones calculadas. Trate de usar frases como, "A veces tu…" y "Quizás…"

*Sermonear y Predicar. Este tipo de comunicación pronto fastidiará a la persona que escucha.

*Hable claro y sin rodeos. Este tipo de expresiones permite las concesiones mutuas necesarias para la buena comunicación.

*Sarcasmo. El uso del sarcasmo puede lastimar a la persona que habla. No hay lugar para el sarcasmo en la comunicación eficaz.

*Demuestre respeto. Trate de demostrar respeto y consideración por el punto de vista de la otra persona. Usted no tiene que estar de acuerdo, pero puede explicar su opinión.

*No hacer contacto con la mirada. Esto puede ser mal interpretado por la persona a la cual usted se dirige.

*Haga contacto con la mirada. Esto indicará a la otra persona que usted está interesado, escucha y participa.

*Leer la mente. Trate de evitar decirle a otra persona lo que el o ella piensa o siente. Usted puede estar equivocado.

*Reflexione y dé validez. Dígale a la persona con la quien habla que usted le pone atención a lo que se dice. Pida aclaraciones.

*Mandar y/o amenazar. Las órdenes y las amenazas raramente son efectivas. Ponen al oyente a la defensiva.

*Sugiera soluciones alternas. Trate de cooperar para encontrar soluciones que son aceptables para ambos. Pida opiniones para la posibilidad de otras soluciones.

*Vivir en el pasado. Una vez que el problema se ha resuelto, no lo mencione en conflictos futuros. Los padres deben permitirse uno a otro a empezar de cuenta nueva.

*Concéntrese en el presente y en el futuro. Póngale atención a un tema específico que lo tenga preocupado.

*Monopolizar la conversación. No hable constantemente. Ambos participantes deben contribuir igualmente a las discusiones para facilitar la comunicación efectiva.

*Espere su turno para hablar. Pregunte a la otra persona por su opinión con respecto al tema si no se deciden a discutirlo.

*Permanecer Silencio. La comunicación efectiva no tomará lugar mientras que los dos lados no participen.

*Hable. Exprese sus sentimientos, aún si estos son negativos.

*Decir lo que se le ocurre. Trate de analizar lo que dice, para que no lastime intencionalmente a la persona con quién plática.

*Observe las reglas comunes de cortesía. Trate de ser amable y cortés con la persona a la cual Ud. se dirige, no importa qué tan acaloradas puedan ser las discusiones.

*"Si, pero…" Evite tratar de encontrar algo negativo en cada sugerencia que hace la persona que habla.

*Escuche. Trate de comprender el punto de vista de la otra persona. No es necesario que usted esté de acuerdo con todo lo que la otra persona dice, pero debe de hacer un esfuerzo por comprender sus opiniones.

*Quejarse mutuamente. Evite expresar una queja en respuesta a otra queja de la persona que habla.

*Haga un plan. Trate de hacer una lista de las quejas que aparecen en la conversación, y discútalas una por una. Añada nuevas quejas a su lista conforme estas aparecen.

Centro Para el Padre Efectivo Little Rock Center, (501) 364-7580; NW Arkansas Center (479) 751-6166

Escrito por Kristin Zolten, M.A. & Nicholas Long, Ph.D. Departamento de Pediatría, Universidad de Arkansas para Ciencias Médicas. Arte de Scott Snider. Traducido por Jorge N. Amaral, Centro Para el Padre Efectivo. Springdale, Arkansas.


Parent/Child Communication

Communication is the sending of information from one person to another.  Communication can be verbal, for example, one person talking to another, or it can be non verbal, for example, a scowl on a person's face that will probably let other people know he is angry.  Communication can be positive or negative, effective or ineffective.

It is very important for parents to be able to communicate openly and effectively with their children.  Open, effective communication benefits not only the children, but every member of the family.  Relationships between parents and their children are greatly improved when there is effective communication taking place.  In general, if communication between parents and their children is good, then their relationships are good as well.

Children learn how to communicate by watching their parents.  If parents communicate openly and effectively, chances are that their children will, too.  Good communication skills will benefit children for their entire lives.  Children begin to form ideas and beliefs about themselves based on how their parents communicate with them.  When parents communicate effectively with their children, they are showing them respect.  Children then begin to feel that they are heard and understood by their parents, which is a boost to self esteem.  On the other hand, communication between parents and children that is ineffective or negative can lead children to believe that they are unimportant, unheard, or misunderstood.  Such children may also come to see their parents as unhelpful and untrustworthy.

Parents who communicate effectively with their children are more likely to have children who are willing to do what they are told.  Such children know what to expect from their parents, and once children know what is expected of them, they are more likely to live up to these expectations.  They are also more likely to feel secure in their position in the family, and are thus more likely to be cooperative.

Ways to Communicate Positively With Children

*Start communicating effectively while children are young.   Before parents and their children can communicate, both must feel comfortable enough to do so.  While their children are very young, parents should begin setting the stage for open, effective communication.  Parents can do this by making themselves available to their children when they have questions or just want to talk.  Furthermore, parents who provide their children with plenty of love, understanding and acceptance are helping to create a climate for open communication.  Children who feel loved and accepted by their parents are more likely to open up and share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns with their parents.

Sometimes it's easier for parents to feel acceptance for their children than it is to actually show it.  Parents must demonstrate to their children that they love and accept them.  Parents can do this in both verbal and nonverbal ways.  Verbally parents can let their children know they accept them through what they say.  Parents should try to send positive messages to their children.  For example, when a child picks up his toys after he or she is finished with them, parents can let him or her know that they appreciate it by saying something like, "I appreciate it when you pick up your toys without being told."  When talking with their children, parents should be careful of what they say and how they say it.  Everything parents say to their children sends a message about how they feel about them.  For example, if a parent says something like "Don't bother me now.  I'm busy," their children may wind up thinking that their wants and needs are not important. 

Nonverbally, parents can show their children they accept them through gestures, facial expressions, and other nonverbal behaviors.  Parents should try to eliminate behaviors like yelling and not paying attention to their children.  Such behaviors get in the way of effective communication.  Practice makes perfect:  Parents must learn to show acceptance in ways their children will pick up on.

*Communicate at your children's level.  When parents communicate with their children, it is important for them to come down to their children's level both verbally and physically.  Verbally, parents should try to use age appropriate language that their children can easily understand.  With younger children, this can be done by using simple words.  For example, young children are much more likely to understand a direction such as, "No hitting your sister," as opposed to "It is not acceptable to hit your sister."  Parents should try to know what their children are able to understand and they should try not to communicate in ways that their children are not able to understand.  Physically, parents should not, for example, tower over their children when talking or communicating with them.  Instead, they should try to come down to their children's level by lowering themselves, either by kneeling, sitting, stooping, etc.  This will make eye contact much easier to maintain, and children are much less likely to feel intimidated by parents when they are eye to eye.

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