Family bonding can be easily incorporated into daily life. Here are a few tips to get started:
Choose one meal a day where everyone can be there without major schedule adjustment. It does not matter which meal, as long as everyone in the family is there. Attendance must be mandatory for everyone every day– no excuses.
When approached with a question or statement that affects the family, remind that person to bring it up at the family meal. There will be no more “But MOM said....” as mom will be right there to confirm or deny it.
Family meals allow children to learn how to resolve disagreements. They see the approach the parents take with each other, as well as how their siblings approach a problem. A story of a similar issue and how it was dealt with may come up.
Having a specific time set aside for a family to discuss the issues of its members is a great way to keep the lines of communication open. As a parent this is important, as you want your child to feel comfortable approaching you with their issues.
After the Family Meal
Conversation can be continued and frustrations released with physical activity. At least once a week have an after dinner family walk or a lively game of Frisbee. Toss and catch a softball or baseball. Go down to the local basketball court and shoot some hoops. Take a family bike ride. Toss horseshoes in the backyard.
What you do does not matter as much as choosing an activity that everyone enjoys. Each family member will have their own favorite, so alternating activities is a great idea. Everyone gets to look forward to it, and acknowledging individual preferences builds self-esteem.
Make a list of daily chores that is evenly divisible by the number of people in the family. Write each chore on a poker chip in permanent ink and put it in a hat. Everyone takes turns pulling out a chore or two for that day.
Allow people to trade chores. Encourage the chores to be done immediately, so they are not forgotten and can be done together. No one feels put out when everyone is doing something.
Family Game Time
Try to set aside a time once a week where the entire family can get together and play a game. Board games, such as Sorry or Monopoly, are interactive and fun. If you have a controller for everyone, video games displayed on the television can also be played. It does not really matter which game is played, as long as everyone enjoys it.
It gives the children something to look forward to, and the parents can enjoy playing as well. Games provide interaction and encouragement. They can be good teaching tools for difficult concepts such as good sportsmanship. Most of all, games can be a lot of fun!
In The Car
When everyone is in a car on a family outing or running errands around town, turn off all the electronics. This can be a great time to discuss issues that affect everyone. It can also be a time to learn something.
When my oldest child was 9 and having difficulty with multiplication tables, we purchased the “School House Rock” CD’s. The catchy tunes were easy to learn, and in the car we would sing them as a family. The unexpected result of this was my youngest, who was also in the car during those times, entered first grade knowing all the multiplication tables!
We would take turns quizzing spelling words and vocabulary by making it into a game. Decide upon a category, such as animals, and the first person would name an animal that started with A and spell it. The next person would have the letter B, and so on. As the children got older, we modified the game for vocabulary words.
Our oldest picked up words quickly, but our youngest did not. The older child would love to start the word games and help the younger one.
Encouraging all family members to interact with each other on a regular basis builds confidence and self-esteem in everyone. Each person knows they will be heard and the rest of the family will offer support. Everyone is aware of difficult issues, no one is blindsided by adversary, and solutions can be discovered. Create as much family time as you can and connect with your kids.