3 things a thriving family does well

A thriving family is a happy, connected family where each member feels respected and heard. Of course, every family has its ups and downs, its tensions and challenges, and its good days and bad. Parents get frustrated and kids fight. There are misunderstandings, hurt feelings and resentment. Cracks form in our relationships at times despite our best intentions. You can’t put a group of people with differing personalities, opinions, agendas and life experience together day in and day out and expect permanent happiness and harmony. That’s not how people work.

Rather than crumble under pressure and perpetuate negativity, a thriving family emerges from these experiences stronger and more resilient. Individuals grow, bonds are tightened and as a team a thriving family finds a way to make the good days outnumber the bad. The fighting and feelings don’t disappear. The thriving family just finds a way to harness those experiences for growth and long term happiness.

3 important things thriving families do

1. They cultivate positive feelings.

Families that thrive and flourish find ways to feel positive as often as possible. This doesn’t mean squashing their frustrations and smiling at each other through gritted teeth.

Difficult feelings need to be expressed in order to keep psychologically healthy.

A thriving family embraces warmth, care and love, but also encourages curiosity, awe, hope, humour, gratitude, satisfaction, relief and amusement. When we experience the full array of positive feelings with our hearts and minds open to new ideas, we broaden our focus, expand our thinking and solve problems more readily. We’re more playful and connected to each and we learn more easily.

Try this:

•  Explore nature as a family. Take a walk, explore the local gardens, climb a hill or just look at the stars. Our natural environment is the perfect place to prompt curiosity, trigger conversation and experience awe at the world around us – all positive emotional experiences that will see you return home healthier, happier and more engaged in your world and each other.

•  Be interested and enthusiastic. We all thrive when others show an interest in our interests and passions – kids and adults alike. We all like to talk about the things we love! Cultivate curiosity in your house by asking questions, listening closely, researching questions together and showing enthusiasm for each others’ ideas and discoveries.

•  Have a laugh! Nothing creates a happy family bond like laughing together. Find a funny movie, go to an age appropriate comedy show (we love The Listies), or just indulge in some silly Dad-jokes over dinner.

What thriving families do differently

Help your family thrive - important tips towards a happy family

2. They focus on strengths.

Thriving families flip their thinking and focus on what they do well, not what they’re doing badly. Thirty years of psychological science confirms that when kids and adults focus on the things that they do well, happily and often (their strengths) they get a boost to their happiness and wellbeing. These might be particular talents like sports, music, art or IT, but they might also be strengths of character such as grit, kindness, interpersonal ability or humour.

Thriving families flip their thinking and focus on what they do well.

When these skills, abilities and attributes are recognised, encouraged and engaged in frequently the result is a much happier family.

Try this:

•  Switch your focus from what’s going wrong to what’s going right. In her book The Strengths Swich, Professor Lea Waters points out that we each have a ‘negativity bias’ that drives our tendency to focus on what’s going wrong (the household mess, incomplete homework, cranky spouse) rather than what’s going right at home. The good news is that with practice we can train ourselves to see the positives more often. Challenge yourself to notice one strength your family members exhibit this week and talk to them about it.

•  Know your strengths. Sometimes our strengths are not easily identified. Do you know yours? There are simple questionnaires that you can take to identify your strengths. You might like to try this free questionnaire.


Read this too: Strengths Based Parenting: Focus on the cans, not the can’ts


3. They connect, collaborate and resolve conflict.

Did you  know that family meals are one of the best ways to reduce the risk of kids engaging in risky behaviour? This includes smoking, drinking and drug use. Studies also suggest that family meals protect kids against eating disorders and obesity. It’s not the meals themselves that make a difference. It’s the act of sitting together as a group, talking and sharing.


Try this: Family dinner conversations can help you connect


 

Thriving families take the time to connect over meals and joint activities. They also brainstorm together to solve problems and share important decisions.

Try this:

•  Set yourself a goal to have five family meals together per week (breakfast, lunch or dinner). While you’re there, you might like to start a gratitude ritual.

•  Cultivate an ‘every problem has a solution’ vibe in your house. Challenge everyone (yourself included) to see problems as opportunities to learn and grow and tackle them head on, using a systematic approach and focusing on what you can do about it, not what you can’t. Problem solving is an important coping strategy for life!

Here’s to creating a thriving and flourishing family at your house.

Do you feel like your family is a thriving family?

Photo by Juan Cruz Mountford

Ellen Jackson

Potential Psychology

Ellen Jackson from Potential Psychology is a psychologist who does things differently. She writes about everyday people and why we do what we do. When she’s not tapping at the laptop she coaches, she teaches and she helps workplaces to solve their people problems. Ellen has been making online friends since before the internet had pictures. You can join her tribe on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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