All families run into rough patches. Raising children, caring for your spouses needs, and parenting in general are difficult tasks. It's easy to become overwhelmed and frustrated by the behaviors of certain family members. In this blog, we will explore some practical tactics and strategies you can use to improve your family dynamic.
Identify the Problem
The first step in making a change to your family dynamic is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Start by writing down the top 5 negative behaviors that you would like to change and hone in on one of them to start with. Some of the most common behaviors that parents would like to their children to change are they: don't listen, disobey, hit people, talk back, eat picky, fight with siblings, don't do their homework, ask too many questions, or eat picky.
If any of these behaviors made your list, just know you are not alone! While your children will behave in ways that you would like to be different, the only real change you can fully control is your own behavior. By changing your own behavior, and the way you respond to the behaviors of your family members, you will end up changing the dynamic of your entire family.
Create and Encourage Change
The go-to response for most parents is to immediately react to the behavior that they are trying to prevent. Once you've identified and honed in on this behavior you would like to change. Initiate some tactics that can be used to change the response. For example:
1. Instead of yelling at your children for not doing their homework, turn homework time into more of a game to intrinsically motivate them to complete it. For every homework assignment they finish, reward them with 15 minutes of video game time over the weekend.
2. If you're frustrated by your child's morning routine (or lack of), establish a clear set of tasks that need to be completed and praise them for accomplishing those tasks on time.
3. If you're family is struggling with communication, hold a family meeting and work together to make improvements rather than remain passive-aggressive.
4. Collaborate with your child and empower them to brainstorm possible solutions to a problem, rather than have them continue to whine when they are presented with a roadblock.
Focus On Improving Communication
Communication is key to having a healthy family dynamic. By communicating properly, you can set expectations and set a standard. Here are some tips to improve communication within your family unit.
1. Block out time on your calendar for family time
Even 10 minutes a day of uninterrupted "family time" can make a huge difference in forming good communication habits. Turn off any distractions like the TV or Phone and give your child undivided attention. You may find that making this a regular practice will drastically improve your child's behavior.
2. Actually Listen
Sometimes it is easy to get overwhelmed with life, we become so preoccupied keeping things afloat that we forget to listen to those around us. Children are particularly sensitive to the amount of attention they receive and can easily tell if you are not listening to what the are saying. Allowing your children to share their thoughts will calm them down so that they will be able to listen to you later.
3. Show Empathy
This means tuning into your children's feelings and showing them that you understand. When you respect your child's feelings and make them feel respected, you are setting a positive example of how they should be communicating.
4. Be a good role model
Children are very observant and are constantly watching you to learn how to interact with others. Make sure that you are setting a good example and communicating in a way that you would want your child to interact with someone else.
Remember, change is a process that takes time. Try not to get frustrated when things take a little longer than you like. By remaining patient, keeping your cool, and trusting the process you will begin to see lasting change. Relationships and parenting are hard! If you need some help or advice on some more ways you can improve your family dynamic, why not work with an expert? One of our therapists would be happy to coach you through the process of how to make your family unit the best it can be!