It’s a new year, which means it’s a new opportunity for resolutions. Eating healthy, staying organized, exercising, all of these resolutions are good for you, well intended, and helpful. If we dig a little deeper, there are other resolutions we can explore. Instead of just focusing on our physical health, let’s consider creating healthy social and emotional resolutions for ourselves and our family. Healthy habits start with setting small goals and taking proactive steps to set your family up for success.
Healthy Habit 1: See Yourself as Part of Your Community
Talk about the meaning of “community” and model being a community helper. Share with your family examples of when you may have sought, or offered support to friends, family, or co-workers. If we see ourselves as part of a community (family, religious, neighborhood, school etc.) we can feel connected and supported beyond our immediate family. This provides more opportunities to give and receive help when it is most needed.
To quote Mr. Rodgers, “look for the helpers”. Help your family members identify their “go to” support people by creating a “Support Network Map”. Our supporters may be helpful listeners; others good problem solvers; and others may know helpful resources. Support may look like a study buddy for a teen, or someone to run or walk with for a parent.
Directions for Creating a Support Network Map
- Draw a circle on your paper and write your name in the
- Draw the names of people in your life that you can look to for to listen and support; who can help you problem solve and are there for you when you need
- If the people in your support network do not live in your house, make a note next to their names of how you can you stay in touch. (Phone call, video chat, send a picture, write a letter, game online together)
Need some additional ideas for what can you do as a family to help your community? Donate toys and/or clothing to those in need, run errands for neighbors who may be quarantining, or perhaps write letters to those serving in the military.
Healthy Habit 2: Listen More – Say Less
If you are a part of someone’s support network, how can you be helpful? As someone recently pointed out, “Listen and Silent are spelled with the same letters.” Many times, it can be helpful to let the other person talk to figure out for themselves how they feel and would like to handle the situation. A wonderful children’s book on the value of listening is called The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld Click Here (Length 3:37) resonates with all ages. There is much value in feeling that we are heard.
Tips for Active Listening:
- Try to listen to see/understand the situation from the speaker’s perspective. (If this seems challenging, try wondering about why this may be their perspective)
- Hold the silence – it can be challenging to remain quite during pauses. Many of us often feel the need to share our own thoughts are feelings which may not be what is needed.
- How can you show you are listening?
- If you are face to face or on a videocall: give eye contact, nod, repeat back what you hear them saying to you. “You sound proud”, “You sound frustrated” etc.
- If you are on a phone call, words and tone become more important without facial expressions and body language.
Healthy Habit 3: Create Time for Self-Care
In our busy lives, it becomes easy to put the needs of others before ourselves. As parents, it is important to both model balance and self-care for our families and encourage our family to develop healthy habits. Self-care looks different for everyone. It can include eating healthy, getting enough sleep, enjoying hobbies, physical activity/exercise, enjoying creative outlet (art, music, reading), and proactive ways of managing stress, including gratitude and mindfulness.
Self-Care Tips for Families:
- Enjoying physical activity together as a family on the weekend. Outdoor activities include walking, bike riding, or going for a hike.
- Practice mindfulness or stress management exercises. There are lots of great YouTube Channels for this, including Comic Kids Zen Den (Click Here). Or, Calm.com has a free app for teens and adults.
- Focus on feelings of appreciation and gratitude. At mealtime, encourage each family member to share something you are grateful for There is no right or wrong; it is what works for you.
So now that you have some ideas for social-emotional resolutions, you can think about small ways to make them a part of your every-day family routine. Doing so will help these resolutions become an intrinsic part of your life, instead of yet another New Year’s resolution that falls by the wayside.
Written by Carol Miller, LCSW
Edited by Danielle Bentz, MA