For many families the holiday season is filled with a burst of activity. It is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas prep, planning activities to entertain the kids, and events. It’s also a great time to stop and think about how you can strengthen family relationships at this time, and into the new year.
Here are 4 ways to strengthen family relationships:
1. Routines – The way a family organises themselves
Routines are simply a pattern to how daily life unfolds. For kids, this means there is regularity and predictability to daily life – which in an uncertain world promotes a sense of safety and comfort.
It can also be a helpful way to start teaching the balance between sleep, eating, exercise, play, and work. All of which will fill up kids’ energy tanks and contribute to emotional wellbeing.
2. Rituals – Anything that has a special meaning to a family
Rituals can occur on a regular basis and become part of routines, for example a weekly family dinner or reading a book at bedtime. They can also be one off events, like what you do at Christmas, or even special ways the family communicate.
No matter what it is, the ritual signifies that family relationships are important and that kids are valuable members. As kids take part in the family rituals and help shape them, they build a sense of belonging.
3. Relating – How a family connects
To relate to kids, adults need to spend time with them in their world. Often all kids want from their parent is their undivided time and attention. They would prefer you sit with them, talk with them, play with them in whatever it is they are interested in or passionate about, rather than take them out to a paid family activity. Don’t get me wrong, paid activities are also a great way to connect with your child. However, on the day-to-day level the key to connection is time ‘just being with’ your child.
4. Responding – How parents tune into kids
Responding to kids in the midst of a meltdown can be draining – especially when it seems like their emotional world is all over the place. By slowing down and tuning into their emotions, listening and validating their experience, before jumping into problem solving or redirection, kids learn how to manage their strong emotions – no matter what they are experiencing. It also shows them that you are bigger, wiser, and stronger than whatever challenge they are facing. And that you can help them with kindness.
Jessica Buster (M Clin Psych, Grad Dip Prof Psych, BA Psych Hons) is passionate about creating a caring and safe space to promote effective working relationships. Jessica applies evidence-based interventions in a client focused and collaborative manner to assist children, young people and their families move towards their goals of growth and wellbeing.
Jessica’s clinical training and experience has equipped her with skills in the assessment and treatment for mental health issues. She has gained experience working in roles across non-profit, hospital and private settings. This has included working as an Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) Therapist and roles at Guardian Youth Care, Headspace, Westmead Children’s Hospital Psycho-Oncology, and Healthy Minds Happy Kids.
Across all her roles, Jessica has pursued her interest in working with children, adolescents and their families experiencing a range of mental health difficulties including anxiety, emotion regulation difficulties, behavioural difficulties, social difficulties, and disability. She has been able to promote understanding and engagement with these clients by integrating a sense of fun and creativity into treatment.