Monday, May 16, 2011

Renowned Therapist Virginia Satir has a wonderful quote: (worthy of cutting and pasting, and posting on your refrigerator door for all to see!)…”Feelings of worth can flourish only in a atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible - the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family!”

So, to recap: appreciating each person in our family, whether or not they are like we are; realizing that mistakes are a part of learning and growing; Talking about ANYTHING is OK; and though rules must be set, remembering they need to be flexible…ARE ALL IMPORTANT GOALS FOR FAMILIES.

Becoming (and staying) a healthy, happy family may take time! There are several tips to consider, especially if these concepts are new to a family. Take time to consider what it might look like to be a healthy individual…one might look at his\her: 1. physical needs, like taking care of the physical body by exercising, getting regular medical checks, and practicing good hygiene. 2. Mental/emotional needs, like talking to a trusted individual or seeing a therapist when times are tough. 3. Spiritual health, might be taking care of our inner self on a very deep level, may or may not mean “religion” but ways we nurture our spirit, like walks, appreciating nature, or other meditation. 4. Having occupation, work or school to keep our mind/hands fulfilled. 5. Always being open to self-awareness, as we all have room for improvement. These suggestions might be a great starting point, to look at self wellness, then moving toward family wellness.

Other tips professionals offered on this topic:

1. Do set rules/boundaries/consequences with children, which are developmentally appropriate and flexible, and either reward for appropriate behaviors (BEST CHOICE), or enforce consequences when rules are broken. Even when consequences are enforced, it can be done in a respectful, matter-of-fact manner. There is no need for yelling, name calling or swearing. Consequences might include: taking away a favorite toy, game, time with friend, etc. Or it could be a time-out, remembering 1 minute per age.

2. Talk together as a family (The exception to this tip, might be that parents don’t have to share their “gory details,” about their private lives.)

3. Eat together! Research plays this one over and over. Loads of benefits!

4. Play together!

5. Keep family rituals.

6. Make your home a PEACEFUL place. Remember there are very few times when strong, emotional reactions are necessary. If you find your day is filled with yelling, swearing, etc…maybe it’s time to visit a mental health professional or a support group.

Mostly remember that we all need improvement; no one is perfect. Don’t forget that calling for assistance is a strength! In Indiana, folks can call The 211 number, for general social service calls, or 1-800-CHILDREN.

By: Carol Cochard Pool, MSW; Educator, PCAIN

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