Tag: better communication

Don't Use Slides for Your Speech (But if You Must, Here's How)

Don't Use Slides for Your Speech (But if You Must, Here's How)

Slides during a speech are a huge pet peeve of mine. They are almost always misused, unneeded, and/or distracting. Slides should be used to enhance the message of the speech, but they are usually just a crutch for the speaker.

Before using a slide, ask yourself this question:

Does this slide tell my message better than I can?


If it does, use the slide. If it doesn't, get rid of the slide. It's as simple as that. Every single slide should make the speech better in some way. If it doesn't, it should be eliminated.

Slides should not be used as notes for the speaker. That's a crutch, and those slides don't add anything useful to the speech. Tech glitches occasionally occur, and if you're relying on those slides to get you through your speech you will be up a creek without a paddle.

Slides should not be full of text, especially in tiny font. That's annoying and unnecessary. Your audience should not spend all their time reading while you're talking. When slides become overwhelming, and when there are far too many, that's called Death By PowerPoint. Don't do that.

The focus, as a speaker, should be you and your message.

The focus should not be the slides.

If you must use slides, be sure to ask yourself the question above. If you determine you need slides, follow these guidelines:

  1. Less is more. Keep slides to a minimum. Every moment of your speech does not need its own slide. Allow your audience to determine what's important from your speech and take their own notes without the distraction of endless slides.

  2. Consider hand-outs as an alternative. If you have a lot of worksheet-style content that you're tempted to put on slides, hand-outs may be a better option. You can give them out after your talk, which allows your audience to simply listen and learn while you're talking. Audience members can review your information later.

  3. Bigger is better. If you must use text, make it super huge. Everyone in the room needs to see it. Use few words in large font. Don't clog up your slides with book-length paragraphs in tiny font.

  4. Tell a story. Use your slides to help illustrate your message. Images are preferable to text. Use meaningful images rather than stock photos. If an image doesn't have special meaning, don't use it.

  5. Stay on target. Only use slides that don't distract from you and your message. If your audience is looking up at the screen behind you more than they're looking at you, that's a problem. 

The best slides I've ever seen showed important statistics in a huge graph for effect, screenshots that illustrate how to implement what's being taught, or personal photos of the speaker's topic. They told the message better than the speakers could, so they made sense and actually enhanced the speeches. Use your slides in similar ways, and your speeches will be powerful and make an impact as well.


Need to improve your speech or stage presence? Click here to schedule a call with Carrie to learn more about how she can help you achieve your goals!

The First Five Minutes

The First Five Minutes

The first five minutes are the most important of any speech. It's during those few minutes that you, as the speaker, have the opportunity to connect with your audience and keep their attention for the rest of your speech.

Or not.

Those five minutes can make you or break you.

Don't waste those precious minutes thanking the lunch crew or host. Don't waste those five minutes reiterating your introduction.

Don't waste those minutes with fluff.

Instead, fill those minutes with a powerful story, a thought-provoking question, or a stunning statistic. 

Start strong in those initial minutes. You only have one chance to make a first impression. Grab your audience's attention, and keep it.

To that end, it's important that you have rehearsed your first five minutes many times. You don't want to be grappling with it when you get on stage. You don't want to go off on a tangent, stumble over your words, or search for the right words.

Know your beginning, practice it until it's second nature, and use it to your advantage.


Let's work on your first five minutes together! Click here to talk about all the ways we can work together.

Stop Speaking. Start Serving.

Stop Speaking. Start Serving.

If you agree to speak at a conference, you're not a speaker. You're a server.

There's a huge difference. 

If you're speaking in an attempt to get your name in lights, demand authority, or gain popularity, your heart is in the wrong place. And your audience will see right through you.

Your audience can sense your motives. They'll know if you're there for them, or if you're there for you.

Arrive early, and stay late when you can. Mingle and get to know people. Invest your time and talents. Help people feel welcome and comfortable. Ask them questions, and get to know them. Go above and beyond.

For real. Not just to sell them something.

Speaking is a privilege and should be treated as such. It shouldn't matter whether you get keynote designation, or if you're leading a small breakout. Either way, your job is to make a difference. Your job is to teach something. Your job is to inspire others to implement what you've taught.

Your audience should leave the room better than they were when they arrived.

Take the focus off of you and put it on your audience. Get to know them. Find out their fears, dreams, and goals. Find out what holds them back. Research and prepare weeks in advance. Give them your absolute best.

It's not about you. It's about them.

Every single time.

A spotlight is not the goal. Improving the lives of your audience is.

Serve your audience.


Are you working on a speech? Need some help? Click here to talk about all the ways I can help!

3 Tips for Talking About Difficult Topics

3 Tips for Talking About Difficult Topics

No one wants to talk about painful subjects. We don't like to feel that awkward gut knot that develops when we're dreading a certain conversation. We need to do it, though, and it doesn't have to be totally horrible. Following these tips may make it a little easier:

1. Narrow it down to a couple points. Difficult topics require planning. Don't just jump right in without thinking it through first. Weed through all your thoughts and boil them down to 2-3 main points to discuss. Having a very brief mental outline will help you stay on track and choose the best wording for the conversation. If you don't narrow it down to a few points, the conversation will quickly turn into verbal vomit. 

2. Choose the best time. Be picky about when the conversation takes place. Plan ahead for it. Don't talk about something difficult after a bad day at work or when the kids are screaming and running through the room. Select a time that is fairly peaceful, and without distractions. It's tempting to just jump right in when the mood strikes, especially if you're angry, but that won't yield the best results.

3. Keep calm. Getting emotionally charged will not help. Lay out your points calmly and kindly. Even difficult conversations can, and should, be respectful. There is no need for yelling or name-calling, which will only make the situation worse. Prepare ahead of time so you can remain calm during the conversation. Be sure to listen when it's your turn for that, too. Consider the other person's viewpoints.

Not every confrontation needs to turn into a knock-down-drag-out. Following the tips listed above will help you keep calm and talk it out. 

When Personalities Clash

When Personalities Clash

[This article contains affiliate links, meaning we earn a commission for purchases made through those links.]

Ryan and I are so different. We disagree on so many things. Our interests aren't even in the same realm. We are total opposites.

We don't agree about politics.

We don't agree about parenting.

We don't agree about ice cream flavors.

How on earth have we managed to stay happily married for twenty years?

The answer to that question is simple: We learned about personality differences, and we use them to our advantage.

You see, those differences that sometimes annoy the heck out of us can be used to strengthen our marriage.

Where I am weak, Ryan is strong. And vice versa.

Ryan loves details. He likes to have things all planned out, and he's skilled at making sure all the i's are dotted and t's are crossed. I'm more spontaneous and would rather fly by the seat of my pants. Sometimes when I have to sit down and work through too many details I get overwhelmed and feel panicky. So when we need something planned, it's wise for me to just turn it over to Ryan and let him run with it. Everything gets planned thoroughly, and I don't have to do it. It's a win-win. 

Early on in our marriage, before I understood personality differences, it drove me insane when Ryan wanted every detail planned out. It drove him crazy that I wouldn't plan the details (or I'd plan them badly). One book made all the difference for us: Personality Plus, by Florence Littauer.

In her book, Florence includes a personality test. Ryan and I both took the test and laughed our heads off at the accuracy. We then delved into the chapters of the book to understand our strengths and weaknesses. That helped us learn to work together as a team and to utilize each other's strengths, overlook annoyances, and fill in the gaps for each other's weaknesses.

That book revolutionized our marriage.

Once we had kids, that book helped us understand our children in a way we could not have otherwise.

Personality Plus is the book we recommend most often in our communication coaching business. Our clients need to understand the people around them in order to communicate effectively. So many personality tests do a great job describing personalities, but they don't go far enough in explaining what to do with that information.

That's where Personality Plus excels. It digs deep, gets real, and tells exactly how to relate to each personality type.

Ryan says this information has helped him to be a better salesman as well because he quickly recognizes a client's personality and can give them what they need based on that information.

If you're baffled by your spouse or kids, this book is for you. If you're annoyed by the quirks of those around you, this book is for you. If you just want to understand and relate to people better, this book is for you.

It's an absolute must-read.

Get yours here (affiliate link): 

Removing the Foot From Your Mouth

Removing the Foot From Your Mouth

We speak to other people every day. Whether you're talking to a close friend, family member, or mere acquaintance, it's inevitable that sometimes you'll say something you wish you hadn't. Social faux pas and blunders will always happen.

I call this "foot in mouth" syndrome. It occurs at those times when our comments, questions, or opinions fall flat or even offend the person we're talking to. We say something stupid, harsh, unsolicited, or downright cringe-worthy.

Open mouth, insert foot.

Because these unfortunate moments are inevitable, it's important that you know how to rebound or recover as quickly, and with as little carnage, as possible. These painful situations vary widely, so we'll cover the most common instances here.

"When are you due?" 

Asking a woman when she is due implies she is pregnant. To imply that a woman is pregnant means that you believe her belly appears larger than normal. This is extremely problematic if, in fact, the woman is not actually pregnant.

Basically, you've just told her she is fat. 

How can you recover if you commit this particular blunder?

1. Apologize. If you ask someone when she is due, and she tells you she isn't pregnant, you must immediately apologize. Her feelings will be hurt, and you must tell her how sorry you are for offending her. If she tells you she isn't pregnant, say something like, "I am so very sorry. I made an assumption I should not have. Can you please forgive me?" 

2. Tell a similar personal story. Try to be funny here, if possible. Tell that story about when someone said something similar that totally offended you. Afterward say, "That situation totally hurt my feelings, and I cannot believe I did the same thing to you."

3. Move on. Hopefully she will forgive you. Regardless, it's important to move on at this point and not make it worse by dwelling on it. Hopefully she didn't punch you in the head or cause any life-altering bodily harm. If she did, it may be more difficult to move on. Move on anyway, even if it means moving on to the ER for treatment of your concussion.

Calling someone by the wrong name, or not remembering their name at all

Everyone likes to be known and remembered, and knowing someone's name shows they are important to you. If you forget someone's name or call them by the wrong name altogether, you have basically made that person feel like they are not important enough to know or remember. 

What steps can you take to maneuver through this social minefield?

1. If you and your spouse walk up to someone whose name you can't remember, introduce your spouse first. For example, say, "This is my husband, Ryan." Usually at that point, the other person will be prompted to say, "Nice to meet you, Ryan. I'm so-and-so." Once that person states their name, remember it! 

2. If the situation is not like #1 above, simply admit you can't remember. Say, "I'm so very sorry, but I cannot remember your name. Could you please remind me what it is?" It's better to be honest and polite than to fake your way through it.

3. If you call someone by the wrong name altogether, apologize. Admit your mistake, ask for forgiveness, and then ask for their correct name. Most people also struggle with remembering names and are pretty quick to dish out some grace, especially if you've been honest and forthcoming.

4. Be sure to remember their name once they tell you. Repeat it back to them out loud while you're talking to them. Everyone wants to hear their name, so work it into your conversation. Say things like, "Well, Jodie..." whenever possible. They will like hearing their name, and saying it often will help you remember it for the future. PS- Only call them "Jodie" if that is, in fact, their name.

Assuming someone's age (and not even being close!)

Telling someone "You have lovely grandchildren!" is great... if that person actually has grandchildren. If you say that to someone and find out that those are actually their own children you have essentially aged them by about twenty years (or more). They may be understandably offended.

You can recover, however.

1. Apologize. Are you sensing a theme here? Anytime we screw something up, we need to admit it and ask for forgiveness. Taking responsibility for mistakes is something that does not happen often enough these days. So if you make this particular mistake, apologize.

2. Move on. There really is not much you can say to undo this one, and any attempt to do so will simply seem like you are making excuses for yourself. Don't do that. Just apologize and move on. Compliment their children, talk about something else, or tell an embarrassing story of your own.

Ranting about a business you have a problem with, and afterward finding out the owner heard you

In the age of the internet, this happens more and more.

Maybe you've had a bad experience with a company or business, and you feel led to rant about it on social media. Don't. The proper way to deal with this kind of issue is to speak directly to the owner or manager of the business. Most folks are happy to resolve the problem reasonably, especially if you live in a small town. It's important to remember that everyone can have a bad day from time to time, and there may be reasons for the bad experience that you don't yet understand. Seek out answers and try to work toward a resolution.

The next step, if you've exhausted all other avenues, would be to file a formal complaint with the Better Business Bureau, write an accurate but nonemotional review on the business's website or social media pages, or contact other authorities. Out-of-control rants really don't help anything and usually make a situation worse.

If you've already gone too far with a public rant, and you find out the business owner heard you, there are a few steps you can take to rectify the situation.

1. Delete the post. If there is anything you can do to remove what you have said, do so. You don't want to make the situation worse. If your comments were made verbally, move on to #2.

2. Apologize to the owner. You don't have to apologize for having the initial bad experience, but you should apologize for ranting about it publicly. No one wants their name dragged through the mud or their reputation ruined. Public negative statements should be a last resort rather than a first response.

3. Work with the owner to resolve the issue. Tell the owner, "I should not have taken this public until I talked to you and gave you the opportunity to correct the issue first." Everyone makes mistakes, and you should give the owner the chance to fix it. Work toward a win-win compromise. You may not get everything you want, but aim for a reasonable solution that will be acceptable to you both. If you ranted on social media and end up resolving your issue with this business, be sure to make a follow-up post telling that story. It's fair. 

Personal questions that illicit an uncomfortable response (or worse... tears)

It's sad to say, but in your lifetime you will probably make someone cry at least once with your words. Even if you don't cause tears, you will, inevitably, make someone uncomfortable by something you say. Common examples are asking someone if they have children (and then finding out they are unable to conceive), asking if someone's pregnancy was planned or a surprise, commenting that someone has too few or too many children, or making comments about a blended or interracial family.

A common one I hear when we're out with our five children is, "Don't you know what causes that?" It bothered me for awhile until I learned to respond with, "Yes, we do, and obviously we're very good at it!" 

I've developed a thicker skin (most people do) over the years, but we have to be aware that not everyone has. These types of questions and statements can really hurt.

We all have these "open mouth, insert foot" moments when we wish we could rewind and say something different (or nothing at all). Rebounding from these moments involves the following steps:

1. Apologize. Like a million times. And then a million more. If you make someone visibly uncomfortable or they start to cry, you need to apologize immediately. Keep it simple, don't make excuses, and don't give explanations for your blunder. Just apologize.

2. Ask if there is anything you can do to right this wrong. Sometimes there is, and sometimes there isn't. Regardless, it shows your sincerity to correct the situation when you ask what you can do. 

3. If you pray, pray that the person can heal from the hurt you've inflicted. They don't need to know that you're doing it, but just pray for them. God is in the business of healing hearts and hurts, so turn it over to Him. You can't make that person feel better, but God can.

4. Don't repeat the same mistake. Make a mental note of what you said that hurt this person's feelings so you don't do it or say it again. If this person is a close friend or family member, some follow-up may be necessary as well. A message, text, or phone calls a few days later to reiterate your regret over the matter may be in order. 

Sharing an emotionally-charged, unsolicited opinion

You should breastfeed/bottle-feed or you're a bad mother.

Good parents should/shouldn't vaccinate.

You should/shouldn't spank your kids or you're not a good parent.

You should belong to _________ church. All the other churches are terrible.

Smart people vote for Trump.

Only stupid people vote for Trump.

You'd be an idiot not to vote for Hillary.

You'd be an idiot to vote for Hillary.

Get the idea?

These controversial, emotionally-charged opinions are generally useless and don't serve to really convince anyone to change their mind anyway, so sharing them is pointless and hurtful. Parents have a difficult enough job without the input from know-it-alls who could not possibly understand every aspect of their family's situation. And I'm all for a good political discussion, but statements like those above are not good political discussion; rather, they are just nasty. Those are the kinds of opinions we should keep to ourselves unless asked (and then we should share opinions in a civil, well-researched manner, while allowing for differences of opinion and learning from them).

If you've shared an opinion that has obviously hurt someone you care about, there are ways to deal with it.

1. Apologize for hurting their feelings. Even if you are stubborn enough to believe your opinion is the only right one, you can say you're sorry for hurting the other person. We should apologize for hurting someone's feelings any time that happens.

2. See #1. There is no #2. If you've given an unsolicited emotionally-charged opinion and hurt someone's feelings, apologizing is the only way to deal with it. Oh, and for the love of everything good and holy, try not to offer up such inflammatory statements anymore. They are not helpful. At all.

Removing the foot from your mouth

All of these tips can be used to resolve a variety of social faux pas and blunders with the overall goal of restoring your relationship. You have to address the problem in order to move past it. You cannot pretend it didn't happen, you can't brush it under the rug, and you cannot avoid dealing with the matter. If your foot has been inserted in your mouth, you must remove it for your own good and for the good of the offended person. Acknowledging your blunder, communicating your regret, showing sincerity, and working to resolve the issue will go a long way toward restoring your relationship and helping it grow even stronger. 

Removing the Foot From Your Mouth
Handling a Family Crisis

Handling a Family Crisis

Your family will face a crisis. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. But at some point, a crisis will strike.

How will you handle it?

A crisis can occur in many forms: cancer, a sick child, bankruptcy, adultery, divorce, infertility, bullying, miscarriage, job loss, harmful gossip, financial strain, death of a loved one, car accident, house fire... Need I go on?

It's not a question of whether a crisis will strike; it is only a question of when and what kind of crisis your family will experience.

Ryan and I have experienced several crises during our marriage. We've experienced job loss and financial strain. We've had three miscarriages, and our son, Maverick, almost died at birth and fought for his life in the hospital for a few weeks. Ryan almost died when his femoral artery burst during a hockey game in college, and I had a cancer scare a couple years ago. Just because we've experienced these crises does not make us exempt from another one. So, when the next family crisis strikes, how should we handle it?

1. Keep talking. Unfortunately, many people facing a crisis either stop talking altogether or they start fighting. Tensions run high, and it's difficult to control our responses during a crisis. However, if we want our relationships to remain strong we must be able to discuss our fears and feelings with each other. Instead of clamming up, we need to talk it out. Some crises require decisions to be made, and talking through every option is essential. Other times, we just need to express ourselves or pray and cry together.

2. Mind your mouth. Try to remain as level-headed as possible, and keep control of your tongue as best you can. Easier said than done, I know, but words cannot be taken back. It's crucial in a crisis to be careful what you say so you don't cause additional problems for your family. Biting someone's head off won't solve anything in the long-term. Everyone's emotions are understandably raw during a crisis, so be very careful what you say. Don't stop talking, but choose your words intentionally. It's fine to express yourself and share your fears and feelings. It's never helpful to attack others, call people names, or bring up past wrongs. 

3. Keep listening. Our loved ones are experiencing the same crisis, but they are feeling different things. We need to talk about our own feelings, but we also need to listen to our loved ones. They need to be heard, and they need a safe environment to express themselves and be understood. Try hard to listen well and be attentive. Active listening during a crisis helps avoid additional issues and problems, and it can help us understand what everyone in the crisis is experiencing. Try not to judge each other's responses and feelings; everyone is different, and that is okay.

4. Pull together. This one seems obvious, but many people withdraw from loved ones during a crisis. Instead, pull together. Lean on each other, and become a team to overcome the crisis. It is helpful to know that your other family members and loved ones are there for you, and you can be there for them. A crisis may actually help your family to grow closer than ever before. I would never purposely choose to have our son, Maverick, almost die, but that experience forged a bond between Ryan and me that became stronger than I could have ever imagined.

Every family will face a crisis at some point. Our responses determine how our relationships move forward after the crisis. Choose your responses well so that your family can come through the crisis stronger than ever.

You Need Date Nights

You Need Date Nights

If you are married or are in a significant relationship with someone, you need date nights on a consistent basis. Every couple does. There is no possible way to grow your relationship or keep it strong if you aren't spending quality time together.

Lounging on the couch together while drooling on yourselves in front of the television is not quality time, by the way.

I know you're busy, exhausted, and have other things to do. I get it. I really do. We have five kids, I homeschool them, I work from home, and Ryan works a full-time sales job. We struggle to schedule date nights, too. At times money gets tight, and we don't want to spend it on date nights.

But we understand that date nights are vital to the health of our marriage, so we make sure they get scheduled as often as possible. Date nights don't have to break the bank, either. 

Date nights are necessary because they give us a chance to get out of the house and away from our usual routine. They get us away from interruptions like phones, work, and children. Date nights motivate us to de-stress and give us the opportunity to fall in love all over again. They force us to focus on each other and talk about issues, ideas, goals, and dreams. Date nights provide a great opportunity to communicate with each other.

As Communication Consultants, Ryan and I work with couples all around the world. We host Marriage Communication Masterminds that give us the opportunity to chat with couples about marriage communication topics like listening, speaking clearly, appreciating differences, and conflict resolution. We listen and learn more about each couple and help them strategize a gameplan to improve their communication and strengthen their relationship. Through our discussions with couples, the number one problem we find is that most couples are not intentionally spending enough quality time together. Everything else falls apart when there is not enough quality time.

It's impossible to communicate effectively if you're not spending quality time together with your spouse or significant other.

Luckily that's a problem that is easy to solve. Simply start scheduling date nights together on a regular basis.

We recommend weekly date nights, or biweekly dates at the very least. The dates can take place away from home, or they can happen in the home after the kids go to bed. It's best to get out of the house, though, because when we're home we're tempted to do dishes, laundry, deal with children, or get distracted by other household issues. Even taking a walk alone together after dinner can be a nice date night.

Date nights don't have to be formal or fancy. Our favorite ones are simple and cheap (or even free). For example, one of our favorite date nights consists of sitting on the porch alone after the kids go to bed. We light candles, drink coffee, and talk. It's peaceful and gives us the opportunity to spend time together. We share stories, reminisce, and chat about important topics. That kind of date night doesn't take much planning and doesn't cost much at all.

If money is an issue, inexpensive date nights like our porch dates are easy to plan. Anything that gets you out of the house or focusing on each other can be a date night. If paying a babysitter is an issue, many teenagers are willing to babysit for small fees. Some couples even swap babysitting with other couples so everyone gets a date night. Our porch date nights don't require a babysitter because we're at home; we just wait until the kids are in bed.

Whatever is preventing you from having regular date nights can be solved. Date nights are important enough to find solutions to your problems. Intentional quality time and communication with your spouse or significant other is necessary to grow a stronger relationship. If that relationship is important to you, you need date nights.


You Need Date Nights
Helping Kids Resolve Conflict

Helping Kids Resolve Conflict

Conflict happens. That is a guarantee. Resolving it is a skill we all need to hone. Unfortunately, most people don't have this skill and don't make an effort to acquire it. Resolving conflict isn't always pleasant, so many times even adults shy away from it.

If adults don't resolve conflict well, how can we expect our kids to do so?

First of all, we need to stop doing it for them. Rather, we need to show them how to face it head-on.

One of our children recently reached champion tattletale status. Seriously. It got to the point that we knew we needed to purposefully teach conflict resolution skills. Tattling is a huge pet peeve of mine, and I refuse to solve my children's problems for them, so we set out to instill better conflict resolution skills in our child.

To begin, we banished tattling (with the obvious exception of telling us about dangerous situations). We taught that when you have an issue with someone, you deal directly with that person only. Bringing an outsider into the situation should only be done as a last resort (and even then the outsider should be an unbiased facilitator, who helps the parties resolve the issue without taking sides). Tattling just shirks responsibility for finding a resolution to the parents, and I don't want to be my kids' judge and jury. I want to equip them to resolve issues themselves.

Here are the steps we worked through:

1. Don't react emotionally. No one ever responds to conflict well when they are emotionally charged. It's imperative to control anger and other emotions in order to resolve conflict. Don't react or respond unless you are calm. 

2. Seek to understand. Many conflicts are created because we jump to conclusions. Ask the other person directly to explain their side of the situation. Many conflicts can be avoided or resolved simply by asking for clarity. Speak nicely, and don't make accusations.

3. Listen actively. Active listening means that we need to keep our mouths shut and ears open. Don't interrupt when the other person is talking. Don't sit there the whole time the other person is talking trying to formulate your response. Don't try to be right; just try to understand the other person's point of view.

4. Take responsibility. Even if you're right, take responsibility for your role in the conflict. Apologize that you hurt the other person's feelings. Saying "I'm sorry" goes a long way toward resolving conflict, even if the other person does not return the favor. Offer to make the situation right wherever you can.

5. Show grace. Give the benefit of the doubt whenever possible. Try to understand that everyone has bad days sometimes, and maybe something like that is at the root of the conflict. Mend fences whenever possible. Be kind. Be humble. Move on without holding a grudge.

After we walked through those steps, we did a little role playing. We talked through a few scenarios and possible ways to resolve them. We asked our child to describe what would be the best thing to do in each situation. We did our best to get this child thinking about good ways to resolve conflict. This is a journey and will take some practice.

We also needed to do a self-check on how we, as adults, are resolving conflict. We want to make sure we are modeling proper ways to resolve conflict in our own relationships. We want our kids to see how we do it, and not just hear the words we speak. Conflict resolution is a necessary life skill, and we hope we give our kids sufficient resources for the future. As a family, we can work on it together. 

Helping Kids Resolve Conflict
Setting Limits on Screen Time

Setting Limits on Screen Time

It's no surprise that many parents struggle to control the amount of time their children spend behind screens each day. Kids have access to phones, tablets, computers, and televisions both at school and at home. Setting limits on screen time can be a challenge, but it must be done if we want to promote healthy family relationships.

We all know that online relationships are not the same as face-to-face ones. Social media makes it easy to stay connected with our friends and family, but online connections can never take the place of in-person interactions. When we're face-to-face with someone we can have more meaningful conversations, utilize body language and other nonverbal cues, and experience connection on a deeper level. There is a time and place for online connections, but the importance of face-to-face interactions cannot be overlooked.

In order to have face-to-face interactions, we must teach our kids to put their phones down.

Easier said than done, I know.

If you're struggling to get your kids to put their phones down, it's imperative that you establish family guidelines, or "House Rules," regarding screen-time in your home. The following tips may help you:

1. Set a good example. This means you'll have to put your phone down, too. Your kids need to see you model the behavior you expect of them, so set aside times each day that you will stay off your phone, laptop, and tablet. Completely unplug for a few hours each day. You will probably find that you're less stressed, and you'll show your family that they are your priority.

2. Establish "House Rules" for device usage. Some families have a basket on the table by the door so everyone can deposit their devices in it each evening. Other families have designated times when devices are not allowed. For example, many families don't allow devices during meals. Others don't allow devices to be used after 7pm. Gather your family together and work as a team to set guidelines that are appropriate for your family. 

3. Use the device-free time to strengthen your relationships. Don't just sit there in awkward silence. Use your device-free time to discuss important issues, play board games, tell stories, and laugh together. This may take some practice, and that's okay. It doesn't always come naturally, but don't give up. Keep working on it.

Getting kids off their phones may not be easy, but it is important. We all need to get out from behind our screens so we can have real-life conversations with the people we care about. Over time, those face-to-face interactions will make our relationships stronger.