If we were to turn back in time, what would be the moment or the phase we would love to rewind and go back to? Many of us would reminisce about our childhood, when there were fewer responsibilities and loads of fun with family.
The world we live in today is filled with stress and humdrum routines, with children often exposed to violence and bullying. In such times, it is of utmost importance that we encourage communication between our family members to encourage a feeling of belonging.
A study conducted by researchers at the Family Action Centre, University of Newcastle identified eight family strength characteristics which included:
Communication: Two-way communication that encouraged empathy, honesty and openness.
Togetherness: Sharing similar values and creating a sense of belonging and bonding.
Sharing activities: Spending quality time together by giving undivided attention and engaging in different kinds of activities.
Affection: Showing affection and care regularly through words, hugs, kisses and thoughtfulness.
Support: Offering and asking for support, with family members knowing they will receive help, encouragement and reassurance from one another.
Acceptance: Each member of the family is unique. Accepting them for who they are will help them gain confidence even in adulthood.
Commitment: Seeing family well-being as a first priority and acting accordingly with commitment and loyalty.
Resilience: Being able to tolerate difficulties and adapt to changing situations in positive ways.
Building relationships starts at home
Children form an image of their support structure very early on. The reason why many children cry on the first day of school is because they feel their main source of support and comfort is going away. However, parents who spend lot of quality time with the family observe that the children have an easier time outside the house. They learn from the environment at home and connect with individuals outside based on the values and respect earned at home.
How to bond as a family?
The most important thing to set aside when it comes to family bonding is ‘TIME’. That way, all the members in the family would know to respect each other’s time as well. Making time means making family relationships a priority. In the world we live today, how do we bond as family?
Here are 6 easy ways on how to bond together as a family --
Share your interests with your children: What is your favourite activity/hobby/interest? The more, the better. Set out a day or an evening, when you are able to allow your children to participate in and share your interests. One of my best friends loves soccer and plays soccer every Monday. In the last one month, due to a busy schedule at work, he ends up spending less time with his children. In order to enjoy his time with the children without being worn out after a tiring day at work, he started taking his kids to soccer practice every Monday. He mentioned that the fun they have is more than he could have imagined.
Have one meal of the day together: Meal times are very important for having heart to heart discussions. Breakfast is challenging as everyone would not be ready to have an open discussion before rushing to work or school. Dinner time is usually ideal, since this is the time when everyone has settled with work or homework and can discuss the events of the day. Ask your child how their day went and share anything interesting that you did.
A day at the park or the beach: Set aside one day of the week, where you are entirely devoted, as a family, to a day at the park or any favourite spot. For children, this creates a room for excitement and something to look forward to. This also sets in motion their explorative abilities and thinking skills.
Sharing chores: Doing the chores in the house is an excellent way to bond together. A family that does chores together stays together! It motivates each other to help out and also work towards one goal - keeping the house clean! Earmark a particular weekend, when all the members are at home, to do chores which will encourage interaction. It will be a fun day with the bonus that a lot of work will get done.
Cooking a meal together: At least once a month, cooking a meal together is like setting out on an adventure. This is where healthy family dynamics come in place and will be a fun activity. Give children small duties like mixing, pouring, shelling peas, picking out the leaves, shredding and so on.
Bedtime conversations: As a child, I would love bedtime. This would mean my mom and dad coming to my room and comforting me to sleep. As I became a teenager, it meant that they would swap open conversation instead of bedtime stories. It was a huge source of comfort for me especially during adolescence. Many experts suggest that children, who show traits of being introverts, usually open up during a one-on-one conversations, like bedtime discussions.
Time is limited and it the most precious gift we can give our families. Family time and the bonding are memories that stay etched in childrens’ minds forever.