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Family Counselling  |  Robbie Psychologist

5 Ways You Can Maintain a Positive Family Dynamic During Lockdown

Chad Prinsloo | Web Designer

Robbie Pearman  |  Counselling Psychologist

January 05 2021

A fundamental way the COVID 19 outbreak has affected our daily lives is in how we relate to each other. Not only is there now an awareness of threat and avoidance when we leave our homes, but we’ve also been forced to live in close quarters for extended periods due to lockdowns and local restrictions. Because of this, when a family would either be at their respective jobs or school, those hours are spent together in the home. No one was prepared for this, and we had no prior warning, so It can be a big adjustment at first, especially for households with a large number of family members living together, tensions might naturally be running high.

If your family relationship is not quite as strong or connected as you would like it to be, then try implementing these 5 practical ideas below to strengthen your family dynamic.

The Importance Of Healthy Family Relationships

Healthy family systems helps:

  • Bring about situational, emotional, and intellectual development, which is brought about by love and security.
  • Make all its members feel safe and connected to one another.
  • Provide us with the comfort of having people by our side during tough times, helping us to manage our stress.
  • To be more able to resolve and overcome conflict due to the natural bonds developed within the family.
  • To enhance the sense of responsibility in each family member when fulfilling duties, obligations, and upholding commitments.

#1 Set Clear Boundaries

Due to the amount of time you’re going to be spending under the same roof, there is now a whole new meaning to the concept of respecting boundaries. For example, “Agree that a closed-door means someone is working, reading or wants some quiet time,”

Setting boundaries doesn’t have to be rude or cold. A balanced boundary is one where each person understands that they have their own thoughts and feelings, while also taking other people’s thoughts and feelings into account when making a decision that will impact the household.

Barriers with your family members might include:

  • Respecting your alone time
  • Using “we” statements instead of “I”
  • Practicing constructive feedback or criticism (when alone)
  • Not drinking or smoking while you’re in the same room or interacting closeby to a family member
  • Establishing any off-limit topics (like your weight, who you’re dating, or any topic that feels like a violation of your emotional wellness) which can lead to negative and out of control situations.

#2 Enjoy the opportunity to spend more time together

While it might feel stressful or overwhelming to suddenly be with your family 24/7, try to embrace this new bonding time together, and see it as an opportunity, not just a challenge. Think about the things you usually don’t get time to do as a family, and make a list of what you want to do together during the lockdown. One idea could be trying out a new hobby, such as learning a new language or even doing yoga together. This helps take the mind off stress by giving it a new focus.

#3 Maintain as much routine and normality as possible

Routine and structure help to create and strengthen a healthy tolerance for stress. Whether you’re in lockdown or quarantine together, it’s tempting for you or others to slip into a more relaxed way of life, like not getting dressed the way you normally would, snacking on unhealthy foods several times a day, etc.

When you are more productive throughout your day, it brings about positive emotions, which means you are more able to develop, learn, adapt to change, and engage positively with others. Having regular times for getting up, eating meals together, exercise, working, and sleeping are good places to start.

#4 Focus on Healthy Communication

A healthy family talks and listens to each other, without leaving anyone out or making them feel like their opinion doesn’t matter. Healthy communication encourages each person to have a say in decision making, share their opinions, or talk about their expectations and disappointments. Communication should be open, honest, and straightforward. If there are differences, at least agree to disagree, while also giving genuine praise and compliments when appropriate.

#5 Have a family night each week

It’s important to make time for the family to spend quality time at least once a week together. In the digital age, it’s easy to become distracted and distanced from your family.

Consider the following options, and switch from one activity to another depending on your family’s interests:

  • Go bowling. Bowling is a great interactive example of an activity that can appeal to all age groups
  • Go see a movie. Keep in mind that discounted days may be busier
  • Stay in and play board games. There are thousands of games to choose from
  • Go for a group hike. Sunlight, fresh air, and light exercise are not only healthy for your body but also your mind

Other Quick tips

Spend quality time together

  • Use the time together, such as suppertime, to talk and connect with each other.
  • Have one-on-one chats with each family member to build and strengthen individual relationships
  • Do fun activities together as a family on a regular basis

Work together as a team

  • Create family rules and boundaries that everyone understands and agrees too
  • Include everyone in important decisions that affect them
  • Share household chores
  • Think about everyone’s needs when planning family activities.

Communication is key

  • When a family member wants to talk, stop what you’re doing and listen with full attention. Give people time to express their points of view or feelings.
  • Encourage your family members with praise
  • Show appreciation, love, and encouragement through words and affection.

I’m a Counselling Psychologist situated in Blairgowrie, near the northern suburbs of Johannesburg, such as Rosebank and Sandton.

I work with individuals, couples, families, and small groups to address current challenges with a solution-focused approach. These challenges may include some more common complaints such as depression, and anxiety, or those trying to come to terms with trauma or bereavement.

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