Six ways to deal with stress in the family

Kids have gone back to school, they’re taking part in after school activities, you’re on the run the whole time – dealing with kids’ problems and attending to their needs, all the while worrying about your own to-do list, work stress, and keeping the family together.

Certified Personal and Professional Development Coach at Valiant Clinic, Cindy van de Kreke-Freens, provides us with insight on how to positively deal with stress in the family through six easy steps.

1. Set the rules

Make sure that your children learn to respect authority from you. Training kids on rules and discipline is crucial, albeit challenging. Ensure to plan family meetings where you agree on pillars of discipline including:

o    Weekly activities – be clear on who’s in charge of which activities around the house, and which activities fall on which days of the week

o    Family vs. friends time – agree on times that need to be spent with the family or at home versus times that require to be spent alone or with friends. This will ensure a balance between attending to family matters, but also having healthy alone time, as well as keeping up an active social life

o    Gadgets – it is crucial to have rules in place for when kids are allowed to use gadgets and when they’re not, as well as ensure that they do not become heavily dependent on them

o    Family etiquette and values – set basic rules and boundaries at home. Ensure that your kids understand how to show respect and love to other family members. Similarly, it is crucial for kids to know that there is no place for criticism, blame, or bullying at home. Such values, if perfected at home, will manifest in other areas of kids’ lives.

Any other issues that may result in conflict at home, must be also be discussed and agreed on. It is important to communicate that rules must be followed at home, and show that there will be consequences for when and if rules are broken. Ideally, jot down these agreements on a piece of paper; ask all family members to sign it; and hang it at home as a daily reminder.

2. Create your perfect family

Hand out papers and pencils and ask family members to write or draw and color what they believe their ideal family atmosphere would look like. Each family member shares what they want – at this stage, dreaming is allowed, and no idea is a bad or unrealistic idea. Let the imagination flow.

3. Understand what constitutes a not-so-perfect family

Ask family members to think and share with each other what you don’t want your interactions within the family to look like. Again, drawing is recommended here, and there is no place for judgement or comments – it’s crucial for all family members to communicate their ideas.

4. Reach an agreement

Bring everything together and make a list/draw what each family member wants and what they don’t want. Find the common themes and tackle the differences – trying to understand what makes the perfect balance for your family.

5. Brainstorm

Regroup as a family and try to come up with ideas on what kind of behavior you want/don’t want in the family based on members’ feedback in the exercises conducted. Create signs or words that would help all family members abide by behaviors agreed upon.

6. Finalize your co-created family plan

Put a plan in place following your brainstorm session and share with all family members. Use this plan as a reference for any family encounter from that point onwards. For instance, if your kids get into an argument, stop them, make them listen to one another, and then use the family plan to guide them to find a solution.

From her extensive experience in personal and professional development, as well as life coaching to lead a healthy and positive lifestyle, Cindy van de Kreke-Freens, recommends that all families follow this co-creation method of family planning, to instill positive values and behaviors within family members, as well as ensure a healthy environment at home. Similarly, Cindy recommends that families build on this plan and review it on an ongoing basis.

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