As the holiday season comes to a close and the New Year gets underway, many people find themselves reflecting on the previous year and making plans and resolutions for the year to come. This time of year provides a great opportunity to ponder who and what is most important to us and to think about our goals and priorities.
For many of us, our families and children are closest to our hearts, so why not make a resolution to strengthen your family in the year to come? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Follow a routine: It’s easy for our daily routines to get lost over the holidays with the kids out of school, traveling and holiday celebrations. This can lead to increased stress. Make a resolution to return to your effective bedtime or morning routines (or create a new one if you don’t have one) in order to reduce stress and focus on positive interactions with your family.
- Praise your child for positive behavior: Many parents fall into the trap of focusing the majority of their attention and energy on a child’s misbehaviors and ignoring the positive behaviors. Make a point in 2012 to tell your child when you are thankful, appreciative, or proud of their behavior and accomplishments, large or small. Be genuine with your words, add an extra pat on the back or hug and both you and your child will feel more positive about yourselves and your relationship.
- Spend time together as a family: Increasing the time a family spends together is a great way to strengthen family connections. Set aside time for family game nights, making crafts together, or volunteering in your community together. Whether it is once a week or once a month, resolve to make time with your family a priority in 2012.
- Spend one-on-one time with your child on a daily basis: Whether you have one child or several, it is important to spend one-on-one time with each child, without siblings or even another caregiver present. Commit to spending at least five minutes each day to play with your child, share an enjoyable activity, to listen to the child, and have fun. These interactions provide an excellent opportunity to praise your child to build self-esteem and bolster your positive parent-child relationship.
For more information about strengthening family relationships, contact Child Guidance at 425-4412.
Erica Healey is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a psychological clinician at the Oklahoma City-County Health Department Child Guidance Clinic.