Have You Pressed Your Family ‘Reset Button’ Due to Living Through The Pandemic?
Posted by: Sue Atkins
So, families have experienced something unique.
Being locked down together all day, all week & all month has created new models of family dynamics and new patterns of interaction that will become the new normal.
Some families will have found the experience to be exhausting & challenging & some families will have experienced fear, poverty & hunger but what will the ultimate take away from this unusual experience be for families & how will it change society?
I wonder what parents & children have learnt?
I wonder what they will remember?
I wonder what new ways of being together they will cherish and keep.
How do you make strong families?
It certainly isn’t about having a lot of money or possessions.
Strong families grow from love, security, communication, connection – and a few rules and routines
Strong families generally have a few things in common:
- emotional and physical security
- lots of warmth, care and positive attention
- firm, fair, consistent rules and routines
- good communication
- connections to others outside the family.
Strong families give everyone in the family a sense of emotional and physical security.
This means that when you’re with your family, you can relax and be yourself. It’s OK to be excited, angry, funny, quiet, noisy, scared, anxious or anything else when you’re with your family. As all feelings will be accepted and understood.
This is called ‘unconditional love’ & it is vital for a child’s wellbeing & mental health.
If your child has a safe and secure family base, they’re likely to be more confident about themselves and their ability to explore the world outside your family and their ability to have a go & make mistakes is enhanced.
They are more likely to have a ‘Can Do Kid’ attitude to life as they feel connected, supported & nurtured. That’s because they know that they can come to you for comfort, support and protection if things gets scary in the big, wide world – no matter how old they are.
For ideas about nurturing a ‘Can Do Kid’ have a look at my new ‘Can Do Kid’s Journal. Discover your confidence superpower’ here
Tips for creating safety and security
Here are some ways you can create a sense of safety and security in your family:
- Talk with your partner, if you have one, about the family rituals you’d like to create for your family – for example, reading regular bedtime stories, riding bikes on Saturdays, eating Sunday lunches together, watching a family film on Fridays – as rituals create a sense of security and belonging. Children look forward to the predictability & connection & you are creating memories that last a lifetime.
- Talk with your child about their feelings & emotions. Make time to listen when your child wants to talk. Put down the newspaper, turn off the telly, go with the flow of suddenly chatting at bath time or bedtime. You might even make a regular time to share feelings. For example, each family member could share their ‘highs and lows’ for the day at your evening meal instead of you just nagging about eating broccoli !
- Talk about what you’ll do to manage ‘big’ feelings like anger, frustration, sadness in a calm way. If you or your child is feeling stressed or upset, you might like to take a walk, listen to music, read a story or take time out in the garden.
If you find yourself feeling critical, angry, resentful or frustrated a lot of the time, it might be good to focus on taking more care of yourself & creating more ‘Me Time’ to recharge your batteries but also you might need to share more of the responsibilities & delegate more chores to the kids to help out around the house. Remember it’s good for the ‘We Team’ of family life and it teaches kids responsibility. Look to get help with managing your strong feelings if they persist.
Post Pandemic parenting is a good opportunity to ‘talk & teach’ your kids about pulling together.
The key energy of strong families is respect. Show respect for each other by listening, waiting until people have finished speaking and avoiding criticism. If you need strategies, you could look at ways to improve your negotiating, problem solving or conflict management skills. I work with families all the time around these skills free from finger pointing or judgement.
I always say children spell love T-I-M-E and we’ve certainly got plenty of that at the moment.
So, play, listen, laugh & learn together during lock down & use this time to build strong family relationships & happy, positive memories.
Use this time to become closer, share more, laugh more, enjoy each other’s company and value the memories you will create together because you are sharing a moment in history together and remember ‘a smile is a curve that puts a lot of things straight!’