How do you create strong families? It isn’t about having a lot of money or possessions. Strong families grow from love, security, communication, connection – and a few rules and routines too.
Strong families: What they need
Strong families generally have a few things in common:
Emotional and physical security in strong families
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 alright to be scared, angry, excited, anxious or anything else when you’re with your family. Those feelings will be accepted and understood.
If your child has a safe and secure family base, he’s likely to be more confident about himself and his ability to explore the world outside your family. That’s because he knows he can come to you for comfort, support and protection if things get scary in the big, wide world – even if that’s just the local playground.
Tips for creating safety and security
Here are some ways you can create a sense of safety and security in your family:
As a parent, the way you feel and behave can have a big effect on other family members, especially your child. For example, if you’re feeling angry or stressed, your child might feel stressed too. This is why it’s so important for you to look after yourself, make healthy lifestyle choices and get support if you need it.
Warmth, care and positive attention in strong families
Being warm, caring and affectionate with your child and spouse, helps to build good family relationships.
Children from warm, caring and affectionate families get along better with other children and teachers, and are less likely to bully others. Also, lots of affection makes your child feel special, which can help him deal with life’s ups and downs.
Positive attention is also important. This is the way you show delight in your child and warmth in your relationship with him – for example, getting down to his level and showing interest in what he’s doing. Positive attention builds connection and shows your child that you’re available if he needs you.
Even if your children have different temperaments, needs and talents, they all need your interest, encouragement and praise to help them feel good about themselves. This boosts their self-esteem and confidence.
Tips for creating warmth, care and positive attention
Here are some suggestions for creating warmth, care and positive attention in your family:
Firm, fair rules and routines in strong families
Firm and fair family rules let everyone in the family know what’s expected and how to behave. Rules can help your family members get along better, and make family life more peaceful.
Effective rules are clear statements about how your family wants to look after and treat its members. Choose the most important things to make rules about – for example, a rule about not physically hurting each other would be a must for most families. You may also want to develop rules about safety, politeness, daily routines and respect for each other.
When children are raised in families with appropriate rules, they do better in school and are less likely to get involved in risky activities when they’re teenagers. Fair rules and reasonable consequences help children learn boundaries they can use in other areas of their lives – for example, boundaries at home can help children with following rules at school.
Routines are the regular planned activities that you do most days – for example, making meals, getting dressed, going to bed and so on. These activities help your home run smoothly.
Routines also let your child know what’s important to your family. They can help strengthen your shared beliefs and values, and build a sense of belonging and togetherness in your family. They build a sense of predictability and stability when there are other stresses in your family’s life.
Tips for creating family rules and routines
Here are some suggestions for creating family rules and routines:
Good communication in strong families
Families that support each other communicate well about good and bad things. This allows them to celebrate together when times are good and to talk about problems when times are tough.
Good communication in your family is about:
Tips for creating good communication
Here are some suggestions for creating good communication in your family:
Connection to others and strong families
Being connected to other people who care about them is important for children. Valuable connections include your extended family, friends, neighbourhood and community.
Connections help develop children’s self-esteem. They give them a stronger sense of their place in the family, as grandchildren, cousins or nieces and nephews. Being connected to extended family, friends and people in the community helps children learn how to relate to different people.
Other important adults can be a support for the family when times are tough – for example, if there’s a death in the family – or good fun when you go on holiday together or celebrate important occasions.
Being connected to others might also give you options when you need help or advice, want a night out or need someone to look after your child during the school holidays.
Being involved with structured activities in the local community, and helping others, can help your child develop his sense of identity. An example could be helping out with a local conservation group.
Tips for connecting your family to others
Here are some suggestions for connecting your family to others:
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