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Living Golden (Even When It’s Hard): 5 Tips for Families by Jenna Sherman
It’s been a tough year to stay positive. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, families were feeling grateful for the extra time at home together. However, as time presses on, cabin fever has many of us feeling irritable and on edge.
That pent up frustration makes it difficult to live by the Golden Rule. However, at a time when so many people are struggling with mental health and financial stress, it’s never been more important to act with empathy, respect, and kindness. How can parents and teens #LiveGolden when stress is running high? From Arizona Golden Rule Educational Experiences (AGREE), here are five ways families can practice kindness at home.
Set the Scene for Kindness
If complaining, negativity, and criticism are running rampant, start by clearing the air — literally! Pull back curtains and blinds, open the windows, and let fresh air and light flow into your home. This is also the time to clean up accumulated clutter, broken items, and dust bunnies. Rather than let one person handle the chores, turn on upbeat music, set a 30-minute timer, and make it a family activity! You’ll be amazed at how quickly it goes — and how much better the energy in your home feels — when you’re done. Some people like to follow up with smudging, salt cleansing, or other folk remedies to banish negative vibes.
Practice Compassionate Communication
You can clear bad energy all day, but if your family lacks the tools to do better, it’s only a matter of time before you’re back where you started. That’s why it’s so important to teach healthy communication. Kids who can identify their feelings are better at expressing their needs.
Communication is a common sticking point between parents and teens. Teens feel like parents constantly nag, while parents feel like teens don’t listen. Breaking dysfunctional communication patterns requires work from both sides. When parents give plenty of positive, focused attention and create rules and consequences that make sense, teens are more inclined to work with their parents rather than against them. For their part, teens need to communicate calmly and directly and make time to talk with their parents, even if it’s just about everyday stuff.
Respect Each Other’s Needs
Self-care is important right now, but it’s tough to practice self-care when you don’t get a moment of “me time.” Whether you’re a teen or a parent, everyone needs time to themselves. Create a daily routine that allows downtime for everyone and be willing to lend a hand to make it happen. With a little cooperation, everyone can have a chance to fill their cup.
Gratitude is good for you. A grateful outlook has been linked to better sleep, less depression, and even improved heart health. It’s also good for relationships with the people around you. Everyone wants to feel appreciated, and expressing gratitude is a simple way to do just that.
Remember to give thanks for the everyday things parents do for you, from working hard at their jobs to feeding you healthy meals. Teens can also show appreciation by helping around the house, cooking for the family, and spending quality time with their parents. Meanwhile, parents should remember that kids learn gratitude habits from adults. Show gratitude for your children and spouse and focus on the good moments, not the things that go wrong.
Do Random Acts of Kindness
The COVID-19 pandemic threw many of our usual volunteer commitments off course. But pandemic or not, doing things for others is one of the best ways to demonstrate that kindness counts. As important as kindness is at home, don’t forget the people outside your four walls. Video chat with grandparents, check in on elderly neighbors, and do random acts of kindness for your community. While there’s a lot we can’t do right now, there’s a lot we can, too.
These tips don’t just apply during the COVID-19 pandemic. Use these tips to live according to the Golden Rule during times of hardship and when all is well. When you make the Golden Rule a lifestyle, you make life better for everyone.
Jenna Sherman created Parent Leaders to be all about what parents can do to make sure their children grow up to be strong, independent, successful adults. By providing a collection of valuable, up-to-date, authoritative resources, she hopes to help other parents acquire the skills they need to raise future leaders. Jenna is mom to three children — two girls and a boy.