Guest Post by Alyssa Lili Melody
All parents want to provide their kids with a loving and supportive home. One way to ensure strong family dynamics, regardless of family size or structure, is to establish good habits early on. Matt West, a psychologist and founder of a wellness startup, explains that habits set a ‘foundation for life,’ which ultimately allows you to achieve your goals. And what better place to mold these habits than at home?
Of course, creating these family habits requires listening to kids more. Angie Walston, an online instructor leading the human development and family studies degree course at Maryville University, believes that healthy family patterns can be shaped by being more compassionate towards children. Parents shouldn’t just dictate what these habits are without considering how they will affect their kids. They may be young, but children have their own unique way of viewing the world, and these are always worth understanding.
So, without further ado, here are some things you can do to shape healthy family habits that can set your children up for future success:
Do things together
Spending time together is a must in any family unit. Shared activities, like going on vacations, strengthen your bond as a whole unit, and allow you to get to know each family member deeper.
Aside from the occasional trip, you can make family time more regular by doing simple activities at home. Try hosting game nights and family workouts. Even dinners count as quality time!
There are a lot of extra benefits to doing things as a family, too. For instance, human and community development research has found that having meals together creates healthy eating habits, particularly among children. These are routines that have an impact on your kids’ overall well-being, so make sure to establish good ones!
Honor alone time
It’s not a good idea to spend every waking moment together, as that may create co-dependency among the family. While it’s important to have quality time together, do respect each other’s ‘alone time,’ too.
Alone time looks different for every family. For instance, it might mean you get to focus on work while your partner watches over the kids and runs errands. It might also mean giving your children some freedom to hang out with their friends or do hobbies they enjoy that you don’t necessarily understand. It’s the same with your partner, too. Having time away from each other doesn’t mean you don’t care. In fact, it shows you care so much that you’re allowing each family member to be their own person.
Practice what you preach
Children imitate what they see. So if parents do the opposite of what they teach, how can they expect kids to follow the rules? For example, limiting kids’ screen time while staying on your phone all day sets a bad example. If you want to establish good family habits, you need to be their role model. Practicing what you preach teaches kids good behavior and develops integrity.
Learn to listen
Being an active listener is one of the most important things you must practice as a family member. Whether it’s toward your partner or your kids, you need to show that you are a trustworthy and non-judgemental confidante.
For adolescents, this is even more crucial as they grow and develop into teenagers and young adults. What teens want is to be able to vent about their issues and emotions to their parents without being lectured or judged. They’re not asking for solutions, but rather, empathy and support. Offer them a shoulder to lean on and a vote of confidence. The most you can give is advice, not instructions that undermine their ability to solve their own problems.
At the end of the day, every family may look different, but healthy habits are the same. Hopefully, these tips can help you create a home that demonstrates love, compassion, and respect for each family member.
Written by Alyssa Lili Melody
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