Last Updated on March 25, 2021.
Do you want to build a solid foundation for your family to survive even the most difficult crisis? Here are 7 qualities of a strong family that you can foster in your home to build resilience.
When we entered this global pandemic, I wasn’t sure how we would manage. We’ve been isolated from family for months. I haven’t had a retail-therapy session for a year. And I found myself asking, is our family strong enough to weather this epic storm? More importantly, what do we need to work on to make sure we can survive this crisis? After careful consideration, I’ve decided there are 7 qualities of a strong family that I will continue to prioritize because I think these things will help us weather any storm in the future.
The most valuable skill you can work on as a family is communication. This includes communicating feelings, thoughts, and needs clearly. And it also includes active listening skills.
Effective communication can prevent countless family arguments and misunderstandings. It can help family members set and understand expectations for each other. It can foster an environment of cooperation and compromise. And what’s even more valuable is that this skill will serve kids long after they’ve left the nest.
How to foster open communication
When kids are little it can be difficult to teach effective communication skills. Kids have little control over their emotions, they lack impulse control, and struggle to articulate themselves. This is all developmentally appropriate, but here are a few ways you can encourage open communication, even with little kids!
- Demonstrate clam, open communication in front of your kids (including respectful listening skills)
- Use “I Feel” statements early on and name feelings when they arise
- Have a “check in” conversation with your kids each day (a consistent routine is helpful)
- Acknowledge your child’s feelings daily (never minimize or trivialize) their feelings
- Allow your kids to have input in family decisions
- Be fully present during conversations (no phone, tablet, or other distractions)
Open with Appreciation & Affection
Affection and appreciation play a significant role in child development. It can create life-long bonds between parents and children. But it also helps kids develop a high sense of self-esteem, improve academic performance, and it reduces their risk of mental illness. I love this complete guide on showering kids with affection from The Sun.
Easy ways to express appreciation and affection
- Physically touch your children at least 10 times each day (hugs, fist bumps, and pats on the back all count!)
- The most valuable thing you can share with your kids is TIME, so when your kid says “will you play with me?”, do your best to say “YES”
- Model appreciative words like “Please” and “Thank You”
- Practice gratitude daily, especially for small things
- Use phrases like “I love you” and “You make me happy” every single day
- Be random, but intentional with your expressions of love and thanks (i.e. leave your child notes in their lunchbox when you know they have a big test)
- Make eye contact when you’re sharing your gratitude verbally
Strong Values of Support & Encouragement
Strong families value a helper-mentality. When everyone’s attitude is “how can I help”, it fosters an environment of support and cooperation. We want our children to view the family as a team. We don’t want them to feel like they are competing with family members, especially with siblings.
How to foster values of support & encouragement:
- Avoid comparing your children
- Point out “helpers” at every opportunity (starting in toddlerhood), such as firemen, teachers, etc.
- Seek opportunities to be helpers (i.e. pick up litter at the park, volunteer at the animal shelter, donate clothes to needy families, or donate food to a local pantry)
- Foster an intrinsic motivation for helping others by using encouraging phrases like “You must be so proud to donate your favorite toys to children who do not have toys” or “You must feel great that you’re old coat is keeping another child warm instead of sitting in your closet!”
Commitment to the Family Unit
Strong families prioritize the family unit and family members. That’s not to say each member of a family shouldn’t have their own independent activities and friends outside the family. In fact, they should! But, for major events and urgent situations, the family should be a priority.
How to encourage family commitment
- Demonstrate family commitment by making family activities (i.e. attend your child’s extracurricular activities, attend family holiday celebrations instead of working, etc)
- Plan family activities well in advance and put them on a shared calendar
- Set the expectation from a young age that engagement is expected at family functions
There’s nothing worse than seeing your kids crumble when things don’t go their way. Kid’s often wear their heart on their sleeves, and witnessing their disappointment can be heartbreaking. Fostering resilience and adaptability can help them deal with change, and even disappointment in a positive manner. The ability to see the bright side, or the silver lining, is a skill, and we can absolutely teach it to our kids!
How to raise adaptable kids
- Allow kids to experience failure and coach them through the strong feelings
- Demonstrate adaptability in your daily life
- Practice positive affirmations daily
- Practice grounding strategies regularly
- Don’t shy away from changes in routine when necessary
- Encourage sharing (but never force it)
- Acknowledge and praise when they demonstrate adaptability
Creating lifelong memories are the best way to solidify strong family relationships. And it can actually impact your health! Be intentional about bonding time with family. When possible, get out in nature together. Try to avoid distractions, especially phones and tablets. Do meaningful, memorable activities together whenever possible!
How to fit family bonding into your busy schedule
- Make a plan, and get it on the calendar
- Use our Connected Parent Challenge for quick and easy ways to strengthen your family bond.
- Find ways to fit bonding activities into your daily routine, like gardening together or cooking together.
Clear Roles and Family Contributions
The quickest way to raise entitled kids is to do everything for them. And one of the easiest ways to build resilient, self-sufficient kids is to require family contributions. Don’t worry, it won’t be as big of a struggle as you think. Kids want to feel like a meaningful part of the family. Your kids will build a sense of belonging and significance if they contribute to the wellbeing of the family. Plus, they’ll learn invaluable life-skills along the way.
How to implement clear roles and family contributions:
- Start young! Even one year olds can match socks or put trash in the wastebasket
- Don’t do for your kids what they can do for themselves
- Have set responsibilities for your child, including personal tasks (i.e. putting their own laundry in the hamper) and family tasks (i.e. unload the dishwasher)
- Create a form of accountability (i.e. checklist, chore chart, or try the free Cozi app)
- Avoid offering rewards for family contributions (it can lead to a “what’s in it for me” attitude)
Skipped Ahead? No Problem!
Looking for the qualities of a strong family? Here are the big takeaways:
- Develop outstanding communication skills, including active listening skills.
- Be open with appreciation and affection.
- Foster an environment where support and encouragement come natural.
- Encourage a strong commitment to the family unit.
- Demonstrate and encourage adaptability.
- Prioritize family bonding activities.
- Set clear expectations and family contributions for each family member.
What are the best qualities of your strong family? Share your thoughts in the comments!