Life gets crazy with school, work and activities. Here are a few easy ways to increase communication and connection with your loved ones.
By Andrea Walker-Leidy
Sponsored by Viewpoint Psychology and Wellness
Is it really possible to connect with your family in the midst of all of the hustle and juggle of your busy schedule? Yes! Not only is it possible, Dr. Melanie Schwartz of Viewpoint Psychology and Wellness says it’s essential.
“It’s difficult for families to connect between school, work, sports and other activities,” Schwartz says. “We’re always on the go these days. However, getting into a routine each week where you identify family time can be helpful in creating those essential connections.”
Simply making it a point to eat dinner together a couple times a week can help ensure that you’re connecting and communicating. If eating dinner together isn’t an option, Schwartz recommends planning a family activity or scheduling one parent to spend extra time putting children to bed. Travel time is also a great time to maximize bonding.
“Instead of talking on the phone, or having children watch a movie, use travel time in the car to ask about the day,” Schwartz says. “Make your drive to and from activities a place for communication and connection.”
Children learn from their parents. When parents model healthy communication and place an importance on family time, it shows them the value of being respectful, communicating effectively and expressing their feelings.
According to Schwartz, establishing rules in the house and following through with them is a great way to maximize quality time. She shares a few tips:
- Create a chore/rule chart in the home to set standards for what is expected from children and parents. Posting rules and chores helps to minimize the need to remind children and opens up more time for quality communication.
- Set house rules and follow through to establish a healthy parent/child relationship.
- Set up weekly time where electronics and other distractions are not allowed. This can even be a short period of time, but the rule is families must talk and spend time together.
“When children are aware of the rules and consequences, it takes a lot of difficult communication out of the family,” Schwartz says. “Lecturing and yelling often occur as a result of lack of structure in a family. That chaos leads to anxiety in kids and parents, which then leads to poor behavior on the part of the kids, consequently leading to poor reactions in the parents.
By establishing rules, Schwartz says many families find their children learn quickly the family boundaries and the consequences if they aren’t followed. Families then have more time for play and positive interactions. The children respect the rules and their parents, which leads to more positive time spent focused on communicating the good things happening in the day.
The team of professionals at Viewpoint work with families to identify their behavior patterns and find new ways to create healthy patterns. Sometimes, an outside perspective is all a family needs to find new ways to connect and communicate.
With a little planning and a few strategies for success, families can stay connected, even with the busiest of schedules!
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