Good communication between a parent and child is one of the most important gifts in life. When done correctly, the seeds you plant when your children are small will continue to bloom throughout their lives. Here are 10 tips to improve your parent/child communication:

1. Listen to your kids. I mean really listen to them. Oftentimes, kids don’t articulate their needs well. You need to analyze their overall behavior to get an idea of what is going on with them. Sometimes the most important details are in the words that weren’t spoken. Pay attention to topics that come up frequently. That may indicate an area that a child needs help with but doesn’t want to ask for.

2. Ask them questions. Be interested in your children’s lives. When they tell you stories, ask for more information. You can inquire about their daily activities and friends without seeming nosy and overbearing. You don’t need to be best friends with your children, but you do need to purposefully stay involved, especially as they get older.

3. Be available to them. An open line of communication is crucial for successful parenting as well as safety. Let your children know that they can come to you with anything, even with the things they expect you will be upset about. It’s important that they always feel comfortable being honest with you.

4. Don’t judge them. There comes a point when your children are no longer tiny versions of you. They grow into their own people, and although you may influence their lives, you are no longer in control of them. I guarantee they will make decisions you do not agree with. There will be times when they ignore your advice. Let them be independent and love them for who they are, not what they do.

5. Let them make mistakes. Do you remember when you were younger? You didn’t learn well from other people’s mistakes, and they won’t either. Give them all the tools you can to make good choices. When they don’t use them, don’t say, “I told you so.” Be there to show your support and help brush them off.

6. Build your children up. Much of a child’s self-esteem comes from what he experienced as a child. If you are always negative towards your children, they will carry that with them forever. Instead, speak positively about them and their accomplishments, as well as for their futures. Share with them the beauty you see in them. Don’t let them ever doubt how special they are to you.

7. Humor your kids. You are not always going to be excited about the same things your kids are. Pick one thing that you aren’t super into and learn about it. Get on their level and participate in things that are interesting to them. You don’t have to be the “cool” parent, but your kids should see that you are making an effort on their behalf.

8. Trust your children. You need to trust your kids until they have given you reasons not to. Now, I’m all for monitoring and parental controls when it comes to things online. Safety is a top priority, but you need to trust the things they say and do unless they have proven themselves dishonest.

9. Allow them to teach you. As the parent, you may assume that there is nothing you could possibly learn from a child. That’s untrue. Adults are often jaded as life throws different curve balls at them. By watching your children, you may learn how to be kind or giving. You may learn about determination or perseverance. Really watch how your kids interact with others. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn.

Allow them to grow. Watching kids grow up can be scary. When your children are little, it’s your job to protect them from everything. As they grow older, it can be increasingly difficult to loosen the reigns we have on them. Ultimately though, you have to learn to let go. You have to be confident in the values that you taught them. Let them know that even though they are growing older, they will always be your children, and you will always have their backs.