By Jenn Bovee, LCSW, CRADC, CCHt, EMDR Trained, The Mental Wellness Center, Inc.
In last month’s issue of Healthy Cells Magazine, I wrote an article on how to empower your children as they return to school. School is in full swing and this month, I would like to offer a few ideas and suggestions to help your family achieve their goals. It’s crucial to remember that the majority of parents are doing a wonderful job, and I believe that everyone is doing the best they can in their current situation.
Many families struggle with creating deep and meaningful connections with the members of their own family. There is so much stimuli that occurs in our lives today — social media, social obligations and expectations, school activities and engagements, and the list goes on — it’s difficult to prioritize time as a family.
The goal with my recommendations is to make these applicable to every family regardless of the different situations you may find yourself experiencing. My recommendations are as follows:
- Have dinner together as often as possible. I remember when the research came out that children who came from families who have dinner together had better SAT scores. In our family, we had certain rules in place for family dinners, including no cell phones, no books, (no distractions), etc. This allowed us to talk about our day, our goals, and our dreams. We were able to make plans and look forward to things together.
- Ask about homework and other activities. I consistently tell the families I work with to not assume that things are handled or done. Most kids thrive on accountability. Make the commitment to yourself and your children to ask daily how they are doing with their homework, how are their relationships with friends going, and check in with their after-school activities. I know so many parents who don’t want to come across as nagging, so they don’t ask the questions every day. In this case, consistency will be your friend!
- Make sleep a priority. This could literally be a separate article by itself. Sleep is such a crucial part of every human being’s life. From a brain wave perspective, it’s important to get into REM sleep. Part of how we set ourselves up to make this happen is by eliminating television (computer and phone) screens at least a half hour before bedtime. Create a sleep routine that sends a message to your subconscious mind that it’s time to go to sleep. For some kids, it’s washing their face and brushing their teeth. For other children, it’s brushing their hair. The specific routine is less important that just doing it.
- Make kindness fun. So many of the families I have worked with absolutely love implementing random acts of kindness. When it’s done as a family, it helps everyone to create a bond built on giving and helping. Making it fun and allowing them to be creative allows them to have more buy-in, which lowers the potential for resistance and complaining. I remember one year we had decided to adopt another family over Christmas. I was so excited to watch my kids participate in this.
The main thing to focus on in empowering your family is strengthening the connections. This often doesn’t just happen, but requires some planning and effort. Connection is crucial and allows us to have conversations and a bond.
For help with your family dynamics or for information on any mental health issue, you may contact The Mental Wellness Center at 309-807-5077 or e-mail info@TheMentalWellnessCenter.com. Their office is located at 202 N. Prospect, Suite 205 in Bloomington. They are invested in empowering you to return to — or achieve, possibly for the first time ever — a state of complete mental wellness.