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Protecting the Child, Preserving the Family, and Honoring Life

Welcome to the Blog page of the American College of Pediatricians, which we call Scribit Veritas.  Each issue of the Blog is intended to assist parents, encourage children, and enrich the family.  Read our most recent issue below, and scroll to the bottom of this page to read earlier issues.

 

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Growing Independence in Your Child

It is important to foster independence in your child. Children are more likely to succeed and accomplish their goals when you help them build up their confidence and ability to make good decisions on their own. 

Parents have a responsibility to provide children the physical and emotional ability to succeed. “Your responsibilities include providing your children with the opportunity, means, and support to pursue their goals. The psychological means include providing love, guidance, and encouragement in their efforts. The practical means include ensuring that your children have the materials needed, proper instruction, and transportation, among other logistical concerns.”1

The following are examples of what it looks like to have your child become independent. They —

  • “[are] intrinsically motivated because they are allowed to find their own reasons to achieve.
  • were given the opportunity and guidance to explore achievement activities of their own choosing,
  • parents use extrinsic rewards appropriately and sparingly,
  • collaborative rather than a controlled relationship with their parents in which the children’s ideas and wishes are solicited and considered, 
  • good decision-makers because they were allowed to consider various options and, with the support and guidance of their parents, make their own decisions.”1

You may not want your child to have independence yet. You may want to hold on to their dependence to you as long as possible. You might think that you are doing them a favor, but you’re not. Children will want that independence sooner rather than later. It is important to help your child rather than shielding them from any sense of independence. If you do try to withhold their independence, they will feel like they have to rebel, and that can be very harmful to your relationship. Fostering their independence will strengthen your relationship with your child because it will show them that you are here to support them. They will feel more comfortable with you being by their side if they know that you are happy to help them become an adult. 

Here are some ideas to help foster independence in your child:2

  • Give Notice- acknowledge what they are doing well and how they have grown up and taken on more responsibility. 
  • Identify Opportunities- find things that your child is now able to do on his/her own or should be learning how to do themselves! You might find that your child doesn’t want to do certain things themselves, but the more you encourage and start at an appropriate age, it’s more likely they will try. 
  • Make Time- make time for them to accomplish things on their own. You as a parent may say, “it’s just faster if I do it, so let me do it this once.” Try to avoid that as much as possible because then you will most likely never give your child enough time to do it on their own. 
  • Compromise- kids will resist doing some things on their own (most likely chores), so it’s okay to compromise occasionally. It is also always a good idea to add in some fun! Make the laundry or dishes into some kind of game. 
  • Forget Perfection- don’t criticize because they can’t do it as well as you can. The more you criticize, the less likely they are to want to try it again. And remember, it is highly likely that you weren’t perfect at it when you first started. 

Growing independence can be difficult. Parents may be unwilling to let go or the child may be unwilling to learn things on their own. You must figure out what the roadblock is in your situation so you can know what to focus on. This is not something that is achieved quickly, but takes years of intentional time. Be patient with yourself and your child and focus on building a strong relationship. Doing so will help make them more willing to grow in their independence because they will feel more confident and secure with your guidance and support. 

 

References

1.Parenting: Raise Independent Children. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-power-prime/201011/parenting-raise-independent-children

2.Gillard, J. (2016, September 29). 8 tips for teaching kids to be more independent. Retrieved from https://www.todaysparent.com/kids/teaching-kids-to-be-more-independent/

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The Balance of Yes’s and No’s

“Saying ‘no’ limits conversation and so if you say ‘no’ too often, your children may stop asking. Saying ‘no’ may become ineffective if overused, and it often leads to a power struggle.”

Saying ‘yes’, all the time, however, can prevent your children from learning discipline, respect, and boundaries. It can cause your life to go out of control because you keep doing things for your kids and promising them the world.

An out of control life will do more damage to the child’s life than not promising them every little thing. There will be other people in your child’s life that will say ‘no’ to them. It is important to say ‘no’ now so you can help them learn how to manage their emotions and be able to function when faced with failure. 

You don’t want to be the ‘yes’ parent, but you also don’t want to be the parent to always be saying ‘no’. You do need to know when to say each. Here are some benefits about each so you can use ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to accomplish what you are hoping to.

 

No’s

Prepares them for Future– “No teaches children important lessons — how to cope with disappointment, how to argue, how to strike a balance between work and play, time management and task prioritization — essential experiences that aren’t always taught in school. When children grow up learning these concepts, they are more likely to be successful in their academics, relationships, and later on, in their careers.”1

Time Management– It is great if your child wants to be involved in many different clubs and teams in school, but being spread too thin is never a good thing. Help your child realize that most things in life become more beneficial when you have time to focus on them rather than rushing on to the next thing. Being in five different sports teams and three academic teams may not be as fun as it sounds, and it may be impossible time wise. 

Yes’s

Saying ‘yes’ should happen more often than saying ‘no’. No can be a negative word and can tear down a child if heard too much. The goal is to use positive parenting and discipline so you can still say no sometimes, but in a way that will build up the child and help them understand your reasoning. “Instead of saying, “Stop yelling,” – you can say, “Use soft voices inside.” Rather than saying, “Don’t jump on the couch,” try saying, “You can jump on the floor.”3 This way you are eliminating the negativity and instead of focusing on it, you can focus on the positive and what they can do. 

This is also a great opportunity to teach and explain natural consequences. “Rather than saying, “Stop taking off your boots!” you could try, “I see you took your boots off again. It looks like you don’t want to go outside to play.”3 This way you are explaining their actions to help them understand the consequences.

There is no set number to how many ‘no’s’ and ‘yes’s’ you should say to your child, but the more you are able to use positive words when speaking with your child, the more understanding they will be. It will help them learn consequences and feel more valued. It may take some extra effort, but taking every opportunity to teach and explain your responses will help set your child up for success in the future. 

References

1.Admin. (2018, September 4). Are You Too Much of a Yes-Parent? Retrieved from https://www.susannewmanphd.com/blog/2015/06/02/are-you-too-much-of-a-yes-parent/

2.CarreroKara, K. (2019, April 10). How negative language impacts kids and why “no” should be limited. Retrieved from https://karacarrero.com/parenting-without-saying-no/

3.Name. (2019, August 22). Positive Parenting: How to Say No Less (and Yes More Often). Retrieved from https://thedeliberatemom.com/less-no-more-yes-parenting/

4.The power of saying yes to kids. (2018, December 10). Retrieved from https://www.parentingideas.com.au/blog/the-power-of-saying-yes-to-kids/

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How To Build Parent to Child Relationships

“In a study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family Values, 680 married couples were examined for signs of attachment/detachment behaviors within their relationship.  Research showed that many individuals who had depression, anxiety and detachment behaviors had previously experienced detached childhood relationships with their parent(s). This history had a high correlation of depression and frustration between spouses later in life. However, most of those who experienced strong relationships, had experienced closeness as children with their parents.”

The parent and child relationship must not go unnoticed because of how impactful the consequences that relationship has in the future. Sometimes a strong relationship will come naturally between a parent and a child, but other times it takes a lot of work. Below is a list of things that can help you strengthen that relationship.1

Loving Interactions

Your child does not know what you think in your head about them nor what you say to others about them. What your child does know is how you treat them. If each interaction is negative, then eventually your child will not want to be around you. Being warm and kind to your child and making each interaction pleasant and happy will go a long way. This will help your child feel more comfortable around you because they are relaxed knowing that you love them.

Have Boundaries, Rules, and Consequences

Having these three things does not make you a mean parent. How you deliver the rules, boundaries, and consequences is what your  child will remember. Make sure your child clearly knows the rules and the consequences of breaking them. Children respect parents who have rules and follow through with the consequences. See the page, Responsible Discipline, from the American College of Pediatricians for good tips and guidance.

Listen and Empathize

Children need to be understood. Humans feel emotionally connected to those that they open up to and share things with. Be that person for your child. Do not try to force them to do things or fix their problems on their own every time. Most of the time your child  just needs someone to listen to them. See the handout, Parenting your Teen.

Problem Solve Together

Working side by side with your child to figure things out will draw you closer together because of the communication involved in teamwork. 

Tell Them You Love Them

This may be easy to do for some parents and really hard for others. It’s not difficult because those parents do not love their children, but if you were not told ‘I love you’ by your parents growing up, then it can feel really awkward to do it with your children. It is always worth it to tell your child that you love them. This will help your child  express love better as well.

Quality/ Fun Time

Children love to have fun! Some of your children’s fondest childhood memories will likely be the fun memories you make with them. Make sure to play games that they want to play and relax and let go! Don’t be afraid to laugh and be silly with your child. 

Be Available

As a parent you have a responsibility to be the one who nurtures and protects your child. If you are only available at certain times, you may miss the times when your child needs you the most. Pay attention to your child to see when those times arise. Make it a habit to eat together as a family.

Spend Time One-on-One

Time with the whole family is great, but there are great benefits from getting in that one-on-one time. This also may not come naturally for some families, but the more often it happens, the easier it will get and the more comfortable you and your child will be around each other. These times are crucial because it will teach your child how to treat people because of the way you are treating them personally. The way a father treats his daughter on their one-on-one date, will set expectations in the girl’s mind on how her future spouse should treat her. 

The amount of benefits that come from children feeling closeness to their parents is insurmountable. The way a parent treats a child growing up will affect how the child treats others, including their future spouse and children. As a Parent, having a one-on-one connection with your  child will help you both feel more connected and loved, and bring happiness into your lives!

 

References

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.Admin. (2018, October 25). Parent-Child Relationship – Why it’s Important. Retrieved from https://www.parentingni.org/blog/parent-child-relationship-why-its-important/

2.The Importance of Close Parent-Child Relationships. (2017, May 8). Retrieved from https://www.acpeds.org/the-importance-of-close-parent-child-relationships?highlight=parent child relationship

 

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How Parents Can Strengthen Sibling Bonds

Parents have a lot of influence and responsibility over sibling-to-sibling relationships. While it is ultimately between the children to have a strong connection, parents can guide and nourish that relationship from an early age. Here are some ways that parents can do this:

 

  • Encourage Activities That Both Children Like 

    Kids are usually open to different kinds of play if presented in the right way, just like children can become good at sharing. Provide opportunities and plan time where they are able to play together in a way that they will both enjoy.

  • Do Not Interrupt Happy Play

     These times may be rare for some siblings. If you as a parent are able to hold off on interrupting this happy play time, both children will benefit. They will remember the happy memories and be more likely to play together nicely the next time.

  • Create a Happy Environment

    Children feed off of other’s emotions, so make sure that the house is a place where it is common to be happy. 

  • Encourage One-on-One Play

     Some children are just naturally more connected and drawn to certain siblings. This is good, but can be bad for the bonding between the siblings that never spend alone time together. If you have children that have favorite siblings, encourage and create times where they are alone with their other siblings in a happy environment. This may be uncomfortable for the children, but the more times it happens the more normal and comfortable it will be.

  • Teach Them How to Serve One Another

     You usually get to know and love those who serve you and those you serve. Encourage your children and present ideas of how they can serve each sibling throughout the week. It can be something very simple and small, but the important thing is that it will get them thinking about the other person more often and will help them get to know each other. 

  • Teach Them to Love Each Other

    The best way to do this is by example. Make it a common thing to say “I love you” in your home. Young children usually love to love others, so start from an early age. Say “I love you” every night to each child and encourage each sibling to say it to each other each night as well. Teach by example to hug each other. Another thing to do is to sit down as a family once a week and go around the room and have each child say something that they like about each of their siblings. This could seem awkward and may not feel beneficial at times, but it will pay off by getting your children comfortable with saying nice things about each other. 

  • Have Them Work Together Instead of Individually

    Without noticing it, parents often give chores to each child to do by themselves. Start having the children do things in pairs and switch up the pairs each time so each child will know how to work and get along with each sibling. 

 

References

  1. 12 Tips to Build a Stronger Sibling Bond. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/peaceful-parents-happy-kids/201706/12-tips-build-stronger-sibling-bond
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Handling Insecurities

Insecurities seem to be a part of every person’s life to some degree. More often than not, social media is attached to this struggle. “It’s important to remember that just posting edited pictures online or pretending your life is a little more glamorous than it is, is not in and of itself a problem,” says Jill Emanuele, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Child Mind Institute.1 “Social media alone is unlikely to be at the heart of the issue, but it can make a difficult situation even harder.”1 

The reason why social media can be so destructive is because you can take any insecurity and find it on social media. Feelings of negative body image, having no purpose or confidence, feeling like you don’t look good enough, or aren’t successful enough can blow up when overusing social media. “Kids view social media through the lens of their own lives,” says Dr. Emanuele. “If they’re struggling to stay on top of things or suffering from low self-esteem, they’re more likely to interpret images of peers having fun as confirmation that they’re doing badly compared to their friends.”1 This causes people to feel like they need to act and look a certain way. If people practice being a different person eight hours a day, it makes it harder for them to accept their real self.1

While most often this is directed towards teenagers, parents are also struggling with these same problems. It is not uncommon for each family member to struggle with this to some degree. When the whole family is struggling, it can be that much harder to overcome, but it is not impossible! Here are some suggestions on how to get back on a more secure and happy life:

  • Surround yourself with the right people

    You tend to become the product of your five closest friends. Find people that make you feel good about yourself in a healthy way. 

  • Acknowledge Where You Need Change

    It is impossible to fix something that you do not think is broken. Accepting that you have faults will allow you to understand yourself better and then know what to do to build yourself back up. 

  • Don’t Compare Yourself to Others

    This is where negative social media takes over. Instagram, for example, is an easy place to compare yourself and your life to other people’s highlight reel. Whatever you find as your source of comparison, limit your time spent with it or get rid of it completely, at least until you gain back control.

  • Give Back

    Being insecure may not sound like a selfish thing, and sometimes it’s not, but to be insecure, you have to be looking inwards. You have to be thinking that you aren’t good enough or smart enough. Giving back and reaching outwards to others can help you forget about yourself and your insecurities. It helps put things back in the right perspective. Be so busy reaching out that you don’t have time to compare yourself to others. The more you truly love others, the more likely you are to truly love yourself. 

Social media can be a scary thing, but only if you let it control you. Others can help you fight away your insecurities, so reach out for help and community, but ultimately you have to be the one to fight them away completely. Take care of your family by building yourself up, so that you can then build them up. 

 

References

1. Jacobson, R., & Child Mind Institute. (n.d.). Social Media and Self-Esteem: Impact of Social Media on Youth. Retrieved from https://childmind.org/article/social-media-and-self-doubt/

2. Minsky, B. (2018, October 22). How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem And Negativity. Retrieved from https://thriveglobal.com/stories/how-to-overcome-low-self-esteem-and-negativity/

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Every Meal Together Counts

With the hustle and bustle of school, chores, practices, games, recitals, homework, jobs, babies etc. it can feel almost impossible to sit down and eat a meal together as a family. Even with busy schedules, the average American family eats together three times per week.1 There is no magic number to how many times a family should eat together each week, although the more the family eats together, the more likely their family is to grow stronger.

Although building relationships with family members should be one of the top priorities of family mealtime, it is by far not the only benefit. See the advice from the American College of Pediatricians, “How to have a Healthy Family Table,” as well as their poster on The Family Table.

Other benefits include:

  • Better Communication- Better communication and knowledge of each other’s lives will increase and grow stronger quickly but must be done in the correct way. A recent study, “showed that turning off the TV was significantly associated with better nutritional health and improving the family bond. You can eat together every night of the week, but if the TV is on and no one is communicating, it has less value.”1
  • Eating Healthier- Meals do not need to be made from scratch for them to be healthy. While making your own meals has many benefits, most families do not have time or energy to do that every night of the week. “If families have a mix of fresh food and pre-prepared food — perhaps a fresh salad with a frozen pizza — we have found that to be good enough with regard to health benefits compared to a meal made from scratch.”1,2
  • Learning Opportunities– This is an area that parents can really jump into and teach their children many different responsibilities and life lessons without anything feeling like a chore. Chores done with a positive attitude won’t feel like chores. They can learn how to use utensils, what food works well together, and how to cook and clean and set the table. Their horizons will also be expanded to different foods. Children who help prepare and cook the food are more likely to establish healthier eating habits and more likely to branch out and try new foods.3 This can happen because the children become more familiar and comfortable with the foods that they are helping to prepare and will feel proud of what they have accomplished.

The more time and energy that goes into preparing dinner and eating it together, the more benefits will come. But even if your dinner is a delivered pizza or leftover casserole, each meal together as a family is still important. Dedicate a few days out of the week that the family can commit to eat together. Remember that eating together doesn’t always have to be at dinner time, you could also do breakfast or lunch. Turn the television off and make meaningful memories!

References

1.Rosenbloom, C. (2019, November 20). Perspective | Seven research-backed tips to make the most of family meals, no matter how often they happen. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/seven-research-backed-tips-to-make-the-most-of-family-meals-no-matter-how-often-they-happen/2019/11/19/d432492e-0577-11ea-b17d-8b867891d39d_story.html

2.Healthy Eating handout from the American College of Pediatricians

3.Ben-Joseph, E. P. (Ed.). (2018, June). Healthy Eating (for Parents) – Nemours KidsHealth. Retrieved from https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/habits.html

4.default – Stanford Children’s Health. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=why-the-family-meal-is-important-1-701

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How to Increase Your Child’s Language Development

It’s understood that children hear and watch their parents’ every move. But what if you found out that you don’t have to talk very much at all to teach your child. In fact, an MIT study suggests that parents should perhaps talk less and listen more.1

“The number of adult words didn’t seem to matter at all for brain function. What mattered was the number of conversational turns.”1 It makes sense. Imagine you go to a high-level class that you do not have prerequisites for and the professor is talking about something that you do not know about and using words that you don’t understand. How much learning can really come from that? Not much because of the level of engagement. 

“You can talk to a child until you’re blue in the face, but if you’re not engaging with the child and having a conversational duet about what the child is interested in, you’re not going to give the child the language processing skills that they need,” said Golinkoff.1

The following are some tips and techniques that can be used to engage in conversation with the child. 

  • “Get down on the child’s level.
  • Tune in and listen to what the child says. If the child does not speak yet, tune into what they are doing or pointing to and use these moments to talk with them.
  • Take turns talking. If the child doesn’t have language yet, that may mean you are talking and the child is communicating in nonverbal ways, such as through gestures, looks, smiles, babbles, and word approximations (children’s attempts at words).
  • Talk about what the child is doing, what the child is looking at, or what the child is interested in.
  • Ask questions that relate to the child’s experiences or interests.
  • Add words or questions to what the child says or does and model new language.
  • Give the child enough time to respond. For children who do not have language yet, this may be a nonverbal response, like a gesture or a look.
  • Stay tuned in to the child’s facial and body expressions to make sure they are engaged.”2

The goal is to be engaged with the child in a conversation that is of their interest so that they can learn language skills and be able to expand their vocabulary. While the deep conversations grow their language skills, relationships are also being strengthened tremendously with the amount of engaging and intimate interaction. 

References 

1.Hardach, S. (n.d.). How you talk to your child changes their brain. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/02/how-you-talk-to-your-child-changes-their-brain/

2.https://www2.ed.gov/documents/early-learning/talk-read-sing/preschool-en.pdf 

3. ACPeds article on Language in the Toddler and Preschool Years https://www.acpeds.org/language-in-the-toddler-and-preschool-years?highlight=language%20development

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Violent Movies Can Lead Teens to More Violence

The Southern California Prevention and Research Center at UCLA’s School of Public Health says that homicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24- years old. They suggest that violent media can be traced back to the root of this problem. Most PG- 13 and rated R movies contain violence, most of which is happy violence.

Happy violence is the violence that doesn’t seem as bad because it looks “cool, swift, and painless.” It doesn’t seem to affect anyone’s life. Happy violence and the overuse of media can desensitize people and make violence more casual and make people believe that there are no consequences for their actions.

According to the NBCI study, half of G and PG movies contain high salience violence. This violence is not to the same degree as the violence found in PG- 13 and R rated movies but has been found to be linked to being desensitized over time and leading to watching PG- 13 and rated R movies later on. The amount of media usage also plays a factor in desensitization. The more often violent movies are watched, the faster people can become numb to the violence and not even realize it. 

Parents can put limits on screen time and put restrictions on what rating their children can watch. Sometimes children click on a movie without knowing its rating or what it is about. Having a restriction on the rate of the movie will help with preventing an innocent mistake. Putting a limit on screen time helps make sure that the children don’t watch too much violence, but it also allows the children time to create and grow healthy relationships. 

For more information on media and parenting, read our position statement, The Impact of Media Use and Screen Time on Children, Adolescents, and Families. 

 

References 

Huesmann, L. R. (2007, December). The impact of electronic media violence: scientific theory and research. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2704015/.

PG-13 Films Not Safe For Kids, Researchers Say. (2007, June 8). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070608141206.htm.

 

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The Need for Children to Play Alone

People usually act differently when they feel someone is watching them. Children will also play differently depending on if someone is watching them or not. Children need time to let their imaginations run wild and to learn how to exercise their own choices during play (PBS). During play, children are able to be themselves and really learn and grow in their own environment. 

Playing alone will also help the child become more independent. They will be more comfortable in social situations and be able to control and understand their emotions and even learn patience and impulse control (Giannini). From this, they will begin to learn their identity and find out more things about themselves.  

For example, if the child were to build a block tower and then they accidentally knock it down, this would teach the child that they must be the ones responsible for the fallen tower and that if they want it built again, they would need to build it. 

This is not to say that children should always play alone. There is a good balance to be found with individual playtime and playing with others.

The child may take some time getting used to independent play if it has not already been presented in their life. As a parent you can make sure that the environment is comfortable for them to be content and happy, so they will be comfortable playing on their own. It may take some time for your child to adjust. Make sure to never interrupt and barge in on the child if they are content and happy with their solo play. After some time, your child will be playing happily on their own and reap the benefits of playing alone!

References

Public Broadcasting Service. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/.

Stop the Mom Guilt-It’s OK for Your Child to Play Alone. (2019, October 3). Retrieved from https://theeverymom.com/experts-agree-independent-play-creates-successful-adults/.

 

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How Chores Can Strengthen Family Relationships

Everyone has complained about chores at some point throughout their life. Usually, children will even ask in a complaining tone, “What is the point of chores? It’s just going to get messy again!” As a parent, you have probably responded saying that it helps teach them responsibility, how to take care of themselves, and that living under your roof means they have to help keep it clean. All of these things are great, but another thing that chores are good for is strengthening family relationships.

Families who engage in chores together and make it a family event can reap many benefits. Doing chores together can create a sense of belonging, provide practice for working together as a team, and can lighten the workload which usually puts everyone in a happier mood. 

Of course, these benefits are usually more quickly received when the chores are done with the right attitude. “Children learn through example and play. A parent with a positive attitude toward household responsibilities will have children who are very likely to share the same positive attitude. Remember, attitudes are “caught,” not “taught” (Illinois, 2016). This positivity is crucial if the goal is to strengthen family relationships. 

It has also been found that when people go through unpleasant situations together, they feel more bonded and connected. Research suggests that these painful experiences can act as a “social glue” and have positive social outcomes. “Our findings show that pain is a particularly powerful ingredient in producing bonding and cooperation between those who share painful experiences,” says psychological scientist and lead researcher Brock Bastian of the University of New South Wales in Australia.

While chores might not be anyone’s favorite thing to do, there can be so many benefits when done together. Families can feel more connected and their bonds strengthened when they do unpleasant things together, especially when they are done with positivity. If you haven’t done so already, start doing some chores together as a family. After a while, something that the whole family dreaded can now be something that the family looks forward to doing together! 

 

References

Amici, K., Amici, K., & Kimberly. (2016, January 27). The Family That Works Together. Retrieved from https://www.faithgateway.com/family-that-works-together/.

(n.d.). Retrieved from https://web.extension.illinois.edu/familyworks/time-04.html.

Shared Pain Brings People Together. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/shared-pain-brings-people-together.html.

 

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