Creating a Positive Family Atmosphere
By Esther Lai
What is the atmosphere in your family like? What is the pervading tone or mood in your home? Is it warm, calm, and salubrious or stormy, threatening, and cold? Is it encouraging, cooperative and caring or denigrating and hostile?
Our family teaches us how to function in the world. Our home should provide a warm and caring atmosphere for children to thrive. It starts with us as parents when we demonstrate love and warmth in our everyday interactions. It starts with us being intentional in creating an environment where family members enjoy the company of one another. When we tear each other down with careless words or actions, it will impact the behaviors of our loved ones and will interfere even with their well-being. On the other hand, a positive family atmosphere creates the setting for our children to flourish and decreases the chances of challenging behaviors or intense discipline.
So, here are some tips on how we can make it work:
Photo by Sue Zeng on Unsplash
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash
Happy Families Don’t Just Happen Overnight
No family is perfect but that does not mean that it cannot be a happy family. Be intentional in finding ways to increase happy moments and making them count. For example, in the midst of the circuit breaker, my neighbor set up a play tent and held a picnic for the children in their balcony. When my kids were little, I used to set up weekly bubble baths for them which they thoroughly enjoyed. Throw in some rubber ducks; give them water pistols and you could even jump right in with them for some good clean fun. The key is constantly looking out for opportunities to maximize the fun and minimize the fight.
Show Love - Every Way, Everywhere
Stick “I-love-you” post-it notes on the bathroom mirror. Whether it’s for your spouse or your children, it can turn the chore of getting ready in the morning into a warm-fuzzy experience. It’s quick and easy – just keep it short and sweet – something like “Good morning, good-looking!” or “I love you - I love everything about you” might be all it takes to brighten someone’s day.
Or leave these love notes in their lunch boxes or under their blankets. And how about keying in those “lovey-dovey” emoticons in your WhatsApp chats? Imagine that big bright smile when they read your loving messages.
Don’t Lose Touch
Physical affection has an effect on brain chemistry that is conducive to positive behavior. “Children do better when they feel better” according to Dr. Nelsen, the founder of Positive Discipline. Don’t wait for the children to come to you for hugs, whole-body-scoops and kisses. Being physically affectionate with kids (of all ages) regularly helps to maintain the parent-child bond. Even with my grownup kids, we regularly get into a tickling match, pillow fights, bear hugs and ambush hugs (a surprise for the hug-ee).
Instill the virtue of thankfulness into the family. Let your children observe you say “please” and “thank you” to loved ones and others too. I train my children to say “thank you” to their grandmother for her delicious cooking and also to their dad whenever he brings us out for a nice dinner.
Talk about how blessed we are to have running water from the taps, hot water showers and stoves that do not need us to gather firewood. Thankfulness is the secret to contentment. When we focus on what we do have instead of what we don’t, it totally changes our perspective on life.
Keep A Family Photo Journal
Keep a family photo journal to record what you and your loved ones have experienced over a period of time. Capture happy, routine or extraordinary moments and include quick stories that tell not only what happened, when and where, but also opinions and emotions. During the pandemic, I kept a collection of photos of every-other-day happenings such as food gifts I received from my lovely neighbors; food gifts I sent; harvests from my garden; zoom meet-ups, mini celebrations (any excuse to do it – just my family of four) and more. For everything, there is a season and we are learning to embrace each season of life with an open heart.
Don’t Let It Rain Inside Of You
Once, I led a group of children together with their parents and teachers to a laser tag event. Everyone was excited at the thought of donning “military” vests and carrying laser guns. However, when we reached the destination, it was raining heavily. With a few umbrellas, it took us some time to ferry each one from the bus to the shelter. By then, the dampened spirits were written all over their faces. I was very determined not to let the weather ruin the day. So, with a burst of enthusiasm, I said: “Hey, it may be raining outside, but don’t let it rain inside of you!” With that, they all broke into a smile. And we had a great time with our games – just the way we wanted it to be.
Parents, you have the power to influence and transform the atmosphere in your home. You set the thermostat and make it happen!
To watch the tv interview on how families are adjusting to the post-CB new normal, click here. This interview is in Mandarin