Relationship Tools for the Family

Healthy relationships are enhanced when you regularly admire, appreciate, respect, communicate with and encourage others. As you look at your relationships, do you cultivate them?

Often people want to improve their relationship skills, but they don’t know the tools to make emotional investments into the lives of the people they care about. When you use these tools, it builds the self-esteem of the people with whom you interact. When others feel appreciated and admired, they feel more connected to you and will work toward your mutual goals.

  • Compliment box This box is housed in a central location and people are encouraged to drop a compliment in the box about each family member weekly. The compliments are read weekly during family meeting time. It will encourage siblings to say something nice about each other. It decreases competition and promotes closeness. Keep them short—45 minutes at the most. If all family members participate with a compliment, a treat or special surprise should happen to reinforce the effort. (This can be used at work as well.)

  • Family meetings (staff meetings). Family meetings are typically designated to improve communication and to give each family member a chance to contribute toward the family functioning. They should be held at the same time, on the same day each week and should focus on cooperation.

  • Appreciation book. As scrapbooking becomes more and more popular, parents and spouses are spending time creating books that highlight the life events and character strengths of people they love. You may choose to do a timeline with special moments. The appreciation book can highlight the person. A creative client of mine wanted to make an emotional deposit in the life of her husband. She asked ten outside people to secretly write letters about her husband and what he meant to them, which she compiled and gave to him as a gift. The letters spoke of him as a father, husband, coworker, son or friend. Both he and his wife reported that this really made a difference in his self-esteem. He had no idea that these people were able to see his character strengths. Another woman I know created a “One Day at a Time” book for her husband who had ten years of sobriety. She asked his friends and family to describe the changes he had made during his ten years. This allowed him an opportunity to see the great changes he made in his life. It was a celebration of the man, and of his sobriety.

  • Leaving cards in unsuspecting places, especially right before bed, or in a place where the other person will receive it when they are away from you.

  • Buying one flower, and leaving it and a special note. The note may look like, “I love you because you listen to me.” “I love you because you clean the bathroom.” “I love you because you drove me to my basketball game.”

  • Leaving a trinket that says, “I love you.” You might want to mark your calendar to remind you to do something special for your loved one monthly.

It’s important for you to be a role model for healthy relationships by demonstrating appreciation for others in your home. John Gray, who writes the “Venus and Mars” series, says that spouses require regular deposits in their emotional banks. These tools are a great way to convey your admiration for a spouse or child. They are also easily modified for the workplace.

Have fun, be creative, and customize your effort for those you love!

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