The professionals at TeamBuilders Counseling Services recognize that at the center of peoples’ lives is family. Whether it is their biological family, adoptive family, or any other type, it has a profound impact on their life and who they are. It is important for children to have these bonds to support their growth and development. Families teach each other how to function in the world and overcome challenges. There are several ways in which parents can remain proactive about building stronger family bonds:
- Provide Support. Children should know that someone is there to defend them and stand up for them. A family is a unit that should work together for the benefit of everyone. If someone is going through a difficult time, they work with them to overcome these challenges. Parents often get busy with work and responsibilities but they should let their family know that they are a priority.
- Show Appreciation. Recognize each other’s accomplishments and achievements. Spend time focusing on the positive things that each person is doing and areas where they excel. Express affection through actions and words every day. A hug or a genuine “I love you” are powerful tools. Work to create a positive environment where family members build each other up instead of tear each other down. Accept and celebrate each other’s differences because that is what makes people unique.
- Spend Time Together. TeamBuilders Counseling Services encourages parents to plan activities for the family as a whole, as well as one-on-one time with each child. This helps to not only strengthen bonds between the entire family, but also between parents and children. Discuss activities that everyone would enjoy and let each member share their ideas. During these events focus on the time spent together and try to avoid external distractions such as work. Make it a point to have dinner together each night and discuss the events of the day and what is coming up. When spending time with each child individually, let them pick a special activity that they want to do together.
- Set Clear Rules. Family rules are meant to protect everyone’s wellbeing. Children need to know that there are clear boundaries and consequences. Sit down as a family and talk about mutually agreeable rules. Parents should remain open to hearing children out. They may not necessarily agree with the child’s idea, but see if there is room to compromise. If something is non-negotiable, explain why the rule is important. Although the family is a unit, it is important for parents to establish leadership and provide direction. Hold everyone to the same standards as far as behavior and conduct. Children and adults should treat each other with respect.
- Build Trust. As children grow they slowly become more independent and want to do things on their own. Give them opportunities to take responsibility and earn trust by following through and completing tasks. Likewise parents should also uphold their promises and responsibilities. Help children to learn from their mistakes and let them know that they are still loved. No one is perfect.
One important aspect of building strong family bonds is communication. Children should feel comfortable expressing their opinions and talking openly with their parents. Active listening is essential. Focus on what the other person is saying and try to eliminate distractions. Allow them to say what they need to say and hear them out until they are finished. Oftentimes people are only partially listening because they are busy thinking about how they will respond. This can cause them to miss important information and not fully understand the situation. After the speaker is finished, the listener should explain back to them what they believe the person was expressing. This gives the speaker a chance to clear up any misunderstandings. Then the listener can take a moment to formulate their response and reply in a meaningful way.
Active listening can help everyone to feel more understood, notes TeamBuilders Counseling Services. It shows people that what they are saying is important. Parents should encourage their children to express their feelings and help them develop healthy, constructive ways to do so. Even if the issue does not seem like a big deal to the parent, it probably is to the child. If it was not, they would not have brought it up. Take time to listen and help them to work through their struggles. This helps to build trust and understanding and lets the child know that they have support.
Parents are influential role models in children’s lives. Children are constantly taking in the world around them. They learn from what they see and experience. Parents should strive to exhibit the behaviors that they wish to see in their children. Promote positive, respectful interactions, and effective communication. Try to align what is said with what is done so as to avoid sending mixed messages. The professionals at TeamBuilders Counseling Services encourage parents to stay actively involved and learn how they can promote healthy family relationships.