11 Tips for building a happy family

Images of happy families are not in short supply, we see them plastered all over the pages of magazines and they are regularly on our TV screens. Does yours fit the portrait of a happy family? The truth is that happy families have cranky kids, messy houses and money struggles, just like everyone else. Don’t despair; you too can experience some of the domestic bliss that seemed previously reserved just for the Brady Bunch. Here’s how to build a happy family:

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1. Love your spouse
The greatest gift you can give your children is to love each other, because children learn about relationships from their parents. So be sure to organise regular day outs and show them that doing small things for one another is important.

2. Rally around the table
According to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Colombia University, children from families who eat meals together are 31% less likely to smoke, drink or do drugs as teenagers. Research shows that mealtimes are more influential than time spent at school, studying, playing sports. Children who enjoy family meals together have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets and higher self-esteem. Doesn’t work for you?
Having joint meals as infrequently as once a week can make a difference.

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3. Put laughter on your to-do list
Find ways to inject humour into your daily life, even if it seems like an effort at first. This average family spends too much time complaining. Loosen up with your kids about chores. If your teenage son always forgots to clean the bathroom sink, write a remainder in shaving cream on the mirror.

4. Play hide and treat
What do lunchboxes, napkins and sock drawers have in common?
They are all places where you can hide small treats, a note, or even a little extra pocket money for the times when you catch your kids doing something good. Recognise good things and let them know that you are proud of them for doing so.

5. Get into the game
Sharing playful experiences will build family memories that will bond you in powerful ways. Especially with little ones, make time for bedtime stories. Go on family vacations, have funs at home. Happy families have inside jokes. Nicknames or jokes symbolise that you are part of a group and that you belong …

6. Limit after school activities
Aim for moderation. Today, a growing numbers of kids are over scheduled and the mother becomes the chauffeur, while the kids are never at home. Create your own after-school activities as a family, for example swimming, bike riding , etc.

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7. Express affirmation, warmth and encouragement
Avoid shame-based parenting, which are performance orientated and approval focused, using words and actions that cause kids to think that they aren’t loved or valued. Aim to make then feel accepted, appreciated, listened to, and loved.
Give them confidence by letting them know that you believe in them, value them and enjoy them.

8. Say “I love you” often
Give them plenty of physical attention like hugs, kisses and back rubs. Rather than just jumping into their to-to-lists, share some relaxed conversations with them after they get home from school and before they go to bed.

9. Clean up as a clan
Doing chores as a family can be a major bliss booster. Kids may grumble when they are helping to do the dishes but as you work, you talk and you get closer.

10. Build and honour rituals
Repeating rituals over time brings families together. Have pancake Sunday mornings or pizza on Fridays.

11. Nurture a spiritual side.
Whether or not you follow an organized religion, happy families tend to spend time reflecting on gratitude and blessing….

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