How to bring your family closer

1. Express your love.

In a strong family, the members love each other unconditionally. Feeling loved gives every member confidence and a higher sense of self-esteem, and this makes the family stronger as a unit. Children need food to grow, but they need love to blossom. They need unconditional love. Do not tell your child, ‘If you eat your food I will love you’ or ‘I will not love you if you hit your brother.’ It is not true. You will love your child anyway. Your child needs to know that, so as not to feel threatened and scared of losing your love. It is also important to express love regularly. Children don’t automatically know how to express feelings; they learn by watching their parents.

2. Set the rules together.

To avoid unnecessary conflict between family members, set rules together so that everyone knows his or her boundaries. This helps family relationships be more stable.

When your child misbehaves, be strict, not harsh or cruel. Tell your child why you do not like his behavior. Think together of better alternatives. Help your child understand so he can apply this in coming situations and can learn to make his own sound judgments.

3. Deal with anger positively.

At times, you or other members of the family will get angry. Learning how to deal with your anger positively helps avoid unnecessary conflicts where irreparable psychological damage can occur due to physical or verbal abuse. When you are angry, count from one to ten and then speak. Or, remove yourself from the situation completely, cool down and then come back and state how you feel.

Yelling at children is rarely effective. Children usually fail to understand when you yell, either out of fear, or simply because angry parents are not usually very skilled in using words. Often they are so angry that they can not choose age-appropriate words. They end up not making sense to the child. If you are angry about your child’s behavior, which will often happen, refrain from reacting. Tell your child that you are angry and can not talk right now. Take time to calm down, think and then act. This way you are making sure you are fair and reasonable. By doing this, you are also teaching your child how to manage anger.

4. Don’t criticize the person, criticize the behavior.

To help sustain high self-esteem in every member of the family, do not to crush the person in front of you by directly criticizing him. For example, if your child misbehaves, say “I do not like your behavior,” instead of “You are a really bad boy.”

5. Spend quality time together.

All members of the family need to spend time with each other, and even a small amount of time is beneficial when you make it enjoyable and meaningful.

6. Get Dad involved.

Children need both parents, not just their mothers. A father’s involvement is very important to give him the significance he deserves in his children’s lives. If a father works late and usually arrives home after his children are asleep, he can get involved at other times. For example, he might eat breakfast with his kids every morning or devote a day on the weekend to spending time with them.

7. Respect differences among family members.

Respecting each other as individuals keeps the family closer because it conveys the message: “I love you just the way you are, no matter what.” A child is an individual at all ages. It is a fact that younger children need guidance and they need their parents to define guidelines, but they also need the freedom to grow and learn to make choices and use their skills. Do not try to make your child want what you want. Try to understand your child: his or her talents, strengths, weaknesses, and dreams.

8. Keep in touch with the extended family.

Children benefit by keeping in touch with their extended family: aunts, uncles, cousins and particularly grandparents, who have so much love to give to their grandchildren. Enjoying that love gives children an even greater sense of self-esteem and security and helps the whole family develop into a stronger unit.