Improving your family life can help bring your family members closer together and prevent conflicts from interfering with everyone’s happiness. Fortunately, there are numerous concrete steps you can take to improve the quality of your time with your family.
Spending Quality Time Together
1. Maintain family routines on a daily and weekly basis. Eat, sleep, and participate in regular family activities on a set schedule. Routines and rituals aid in the formation of a family identity, the reduction of stress, and the creation of a stable, comfortable environment.
Regular family meetings, in addition to improving communication, can be an important part of your family’s routine.
When possible, try to leave work at work and focus on your family when you’re with them.
2. Make it a family tradition to celebrate birthdays and holidays together. You are not required to do the same thing for every birthday or holiday. On a family member’s birthday, for example, you could go to their favourite restaurant or do their favourite activity. You’d be following a tradition, but your activities would be varied.
3. Eat as many meals as possible as a family. Because parents work and children have after-school activities, it is difficult to have breakfast and dinner together every day. However, try to eat together as much as possible. Family meals are an important ritual that can help you stay involved in each other’s lives.
If someone arrives home late from work or practise, sit down with them for dinner, even if you’ve already eaten. It is more important to spend time together and talk than to eat at the same time.
4. Make time each week for regular family activities. Bike rides, walks, and card or board games could all be regular activities. If possible, schedule a family activity for at least one afternoon or evening per week. Maintain a low-key atmosphere and concentrate on having fun and enjoying each other’s company.
5. Collaborate on household chores. Few people enjoy doing chores, but delegating household duties can help everyone in your family take pride in their home. Make it as enjoyable as possible by playing music or holding contests.
For example, whoever finishes their laundry first may get to choose the movie you’ll watch together.
Separate chores into age-appropriate categories. After dinner, your child could clean the table, your older child could load the dishwasher, and you could put away the leftovers.
1. Take into account what your family members have to say. Don’t dismiss or interrupt someone who expresses an opinion. Maintaining open, respectful communication channels will aid in the development of trust and the strengthening of your family’s bond.
Avoid, for example, making fun of your siblings whenever they express an opinion. If your siblings make fun of everything you say, try telling them, “I know all brothers and sisters mess with each other, but it hurts my feelings when you make fun of everything I say.”
2. Avoid harsh judgments and criticism. Allow each other to express emotions and act silly without fear of being judged or criticised. When people expect harsh judgement, they tend to keep their emotions bottled up and avoid sharing them.
If you’re a parent, give your children positive, constructive criticism and try to discourage them from harshly judging each other. Rather than saying, “No, that’s not how you do it,” say, “Good try, but let me help you do it the right way.”
3. Actively listen to your family members. When you actively listen, you absorb what the other person says and demonstrate that you are paying attention. When appropriate, make eye contact, nod your head, and say things like, “I understand.” Simply listen instead of thinking about what you’ll say next, and wait until the other person has finished before offering advice or your opinion.
When in doubt, seek clarification. Say something like, “Wait, what do you mean by that?” or “Was this before or after you saw them at the store?”
When you are talking to someone, you should put down your phone. If you’re having a serious conversation, try not to check your texts or social media.
4. Extend your feelings of love and appreciation on a regular basis. Affectionate gestures, both verbal and nonverbal, can go a long way. In addition to saying “I love you,” look for small, specific ways to show how much you care about each other.
Using phrases like “please,” “thank you,” and other courtesies can help to set a positive tone. Hugging your parents and saying, “I just want you to know how much I appreciate you,” has a big impact. If your sibling is working on their homework and has an empty glass on their desk, ask them, “Hey, can I get you some more water?”
5. Avoid making comparisons between your family and those you see on social media. It’s easy to believe that because other people always appear happy in their photos and videos, they must always feel that way. It’s important to remember, however, that every family must work hard to keep their relationships healthy and strong. If you find yourself envious of someone else’s family, remind yourself that you don’t know what their life is really like, and they, like everyone else, are likely to have family arguments and other issues.
Remember that just because someone else’s family goes on more vacations or has more expensive possessions doesn’t mean they’re any happier than you and your family.
6. Hold upbeat family meetings on a weekly basis. A family meeting does not have to be formal or solely focused on serious issues. Every week, turn off the TV, put away the phones, and spend an hour or so catching up with each other. Discuss the ups and downs of the previous week, any upcoming events, and simply shoot the breeze with each other.
Maintain a light tone. The goal is to encourage everyone to communicate freely, to feel at ease, and to have fun with one another. Inquire, for example, “What was the funniest thing that happened to you this week?”
Handling Conflicts as a Parent
1. Balance your role as a parent with your child’s desire for independence. One of the most important conflicts in any family is the conflict between a parent’s desire to keep their child safe and a child’s desire for freedom. Maintain your position of authority while giving your children opportunities to earn your trust. As they mature, gradually increase their freedom and privileges.
Set a curfew for your teen when they go out, and if they stick to it for a few months, extend it a little later.
2. If you’re arguing with your spouse, try to set a good example. If you and your spouse disagree, keep in mind that the manner in which you resolve disagreements teaches your children about conflict resolution. Stick to the topic at hand rather than bringing up previous offences or making personal attacks. If necessary, resolve a disagreement when your children are not present.
3. Only intervene in your children’s fights when absolutely necessary. Allow your children to resolve their disagreements on their own if at all possible. Set ground rules and intervene only when the rules are broken or your children are unable to calm down on their own.
There will be no hitting, cursing, or name-calling. Tell them that they must allow the other person to speak and that they must discuss their problem calmly.
If a fight breaks out, separate your children until they calm down, then assist them in reaching an agreement. Tell them that your role is not to assign blame (unless one of them cursed or hit the other), but to assist in determining the best solution.
4. When resolving disagreements, communicate clearly and directly. When dealing with a conflict, avoid being passive-aggressive, vague, or sarcastic. Express yourself and encourage your family members to do the same.
For example, if your child did not take out the trash, do not give them the cold shoulder or express your displeasure in any way. Be direct rather than saying, “It’s disappointing when people forget to do their chores.” Say something like, “Sam, I’m disappointed that you didn’t take out the trash this week.” If it happens again, I’m taking away your allowance.”
Handling Conflicts as a Child
1. Recognize your parents’ desire to protect you. While children need more freedom as they grow older, keep in mind that your parents are in charge. Their job is to keep you safe and provide you with the tools you’ll need to care for yourself as an adult.
If your parent forbids you from going out without an adult or makes you go to bed early, remember that they are acting in your best interests.
When your parent is willing to negotiate something, such as a curfew, talk to them maturely. Make your case calmly and clearly, and if they say no, don’t whine or yell.
2. If you’re fighting with a sibling, try to find ways to compromise. Avoid blaming or shaming the other person and instead say, “Time out – let’s figure out how we can agree on this.” Maintain your cool and look for ways to share a toy or play together.
If you can’t come up with a reasonable solution on your own, seek assistance from a parent.
3. Consider things from your family member’s perspective. Take a deep breath and try to remain calm before jumping to conclusions. Before you get angry because someone ate your favourite snack or stole your clothes, try to see things from their point of view.
For example, if your sibling steals something you own, such as a jacket, makeup, or a watch, tell yourself, “I really don’t think they did this to spite me.” They probably just want to look cool in this to school.”
“I know you like my leather jacket,” you say. I can see how it makes you feel cool. But it’s mine, and you can’t just take it without asking.”
4. If your parents are arguing, stay out of it. Allow your parents to resolve their disagreements on their own. Don’t try to be the referee or get involved in any other way. Go to a different room, listen to music, or do something else until they stop arguing.
If the argument becomes physical, consult with another family member, a school counsellor, or another trusted adult.
Creative Commons License