Strengthening the Family

By: Stephanie Shabangu, Penfield Children’s Center

According to fiveforfamilies.org, there are “5 strengths” that can help families weather the trials and tribulations of life. These “strengths” include assisting kids in understanding their feelings, learning to parent as children grow and change, building connections with others, working on inner strength and learning how to ask for help when needed.

By incorporating these 5 strengths into your daily life, parents can feel supported within their communities and raise stronger, more resilient children.

How can parents incorporate these 5 strengths?

Assisting kids in understanding their feelings: The health of your child goes far beyond good physical health. It’s important to keep an eye on your child’s mental health as well. Help him understand his feelings and work through behavioral challenges together. When a child feels safe expressing his feelings to you, he will build confidence in his ability to solve problems, share issues he’s having at school, talk about bullying and trust you as a confidant.

Learning to parent as children grow and change: As children grow, they go through many phases and stages. It may seem that once you’ve mastered the challenges of a certain age and feel confident in your parenting, new challenges arise, because it’s true! It’s important to set realistic expectations for your child and celebrate positive behaviors, while keeping your cool when things aren’t as easy.

Building connections with others: You may have heard, “It takes a village to raise a child.” How do you feel about that? As much as you might like to be with your child every step of the way, as children grow, parents soon realize that many other people will interact with the child on a daily basis. School friends, teachers and other family members can all make connections with your child. Modeling social connections for your child encourages him to develop healthy relationships of his own.

Working on inner strength: Remember to be flexible and stay strong. Parenting is full of stressors including screaming babies, toddlers who test your patience, kids who blatantly disobey and teenagers who make irresponsible decisions. Instead of reacting immediately to an unpleasant situation, count to 10 or walk out of the room before yelling. Also, take care of yourself. While finding time to exercise, eat right and indulge in a favorite hobby might be difficult, it’s important to allow yourself time to recharge so that you can be the best parent for your child.

Learning how to ask for help: Asking for and accepting help is never easy, but it’s essential to keeping your family strong. Learn about available resources for your family and become an advocate for your children. Are you struggling to put food on the table, cloth your children or secure adequate housing? Or, do you feel financially secure, but need a listening ear? Reaching out in times of need does not make you weak; instead it empowers parents to take charge of their family’s needs and shows children how to seek help and advice in a positive way.

Working the 5 strengths into your family’s life will help every member support each other, become strong individuals and learn to help others in need.

How do you incorporate these strengths into your daily life?

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