Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Quick Trick for Building Family

Much of what's written about building family focuses on rituals, such as family game nights or family meetings. While these are important for building family unity, most family bonding happens in the seemingly insignificant, simple moments of the day.

How simple? Maybe as simple as making eye contact.

In How to Build Family Unity, the author suggests making eye contact for a mere five minutes a day could bond you with your family and even change how your children act.

According to this piece, researchers studied depressed mothers and children while they waited to see the psychiatrists. The women were distant and didn't interact much with the children, who were rowdy and, frankly, horrible. Then, the women were asked to give each child five minutes of eye contact each day. They saw a huge difference in how the children behaved. They started to play quietly in the waiting rooms, and the mothers quit complaining of feeling overwhelmed and fatigued. Here's why this worked:
The explanation for these rewards was that the children were looking to their mothers for a sense of leadership as well as a sense of safety. Prior to eye gazing, the children were lacking cues that would tell them that focused play was safe to do. Their loud tones and frantic bounces were a sign of their distress and a desire on their part to force confrontation in order to be acknowledged.

Similarly, each person in a family desires to be seen and heard by the rest of his/her tribe. Eye gazing for as little as 5 minutes each day is one way to demonstrate a family member's importance.
It also talks about other acts of bonding, such as practical jokes and playing games together. I'd never thought of it, but according to this, the games teach families how to function as a team.

The design is a bit confusing. There's a headline, then you'll have to scroll past some ads to read the actual article. Unfortunately, it doesn't include a citation for the study. I'd love to confirm this research.

For the next seven days, I'm going to experiment with a family bonding tip I recently stumbled across. I'll report back on my efforts.


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