One of the best ways to develop relationships and build confidence is to have fun together as a family. I just discovered there is a month long celebration aimed at that very thing, strengthening families and building healthy, confident kids. National Family Month is exactly what it sounds like, a celebration of family. It runs annually from Mother's Day to Father's Day.
An easy way to have fun with your kids is to remember what you enjoyed when you were their age and then do it with them. Blow bubbles, fly a kite, build a blanket fort, play marbles, have a water fight, play tag, climb a tree, lay in the yard and watch the stars. There are so many options that are free or low cost, but will have a huge return on your investment.
One of my fondest memories of my dad is of him getting on the floor with me and teaching me how to play jacks. Picture this, a large Army Sergeant, who was also a third degree black belt in Karate, sitting on the floor with a seven-year-old in pigtails. Quite the picture, makes most people laugh, but it left a huge impact on me. It made me feel special and showed me that he really cared when he got down on my level and taught me something new.
Speaking of laughing, remember that anything that gets the whole family laughing is probably a good place to start. Remember the goal is to laugh with one another, not at each other. Laughing is a huge way to relieve stress and can be contagious. Watch a funny movie together, read a book of jokes together, tell funny stories about when you were a kid, tell funny stories about when your kids were babies. Kids love to hear stories about themselves when they were little. Remember to build family jokes that are specific to your family and then bring those up when everyone needs a little stress relief.
Make family dinners fun! There are some great ways to have fun at the dinner table. Have a night when everything you serve is finger foods and no silverware is used. If you are really brave, serve a regular meal without silverware. Do a meal in reverse, eating dessert first. Or better yet, just have dessert for the meal. Do a progressive dinner, where you start at one restaurant or house and eat a course and then move to another place for the next course. Let the kids plan, shop, and help cook a meal. Put food coloring in something (for example, make green mashed potatoes or red oatmeal). Do the switch-a-roo, everyone order something different for dinner and then switch plates half way, a third of the way, or a fourth of the way through the meal.
Be silly and spontaneous! Sometimes as adults we become very task oriented and serious. Do something completely out of character for you and see if it doesn’t get a laugh or smile out of the rest of the family. Make a funny face when they aren’t expecting it, use silly voices when you are reading to them, put your clothes on inside out or backwards, have a pj day, get them up at midnight and make milkshakes.
Remember, when people are engaging in something fun they are more willing to try something they have never tried before and to be less critical of themselves. Trying new things helps to build confidence. Trying something new with others strengthens bonds and attachments.
For more suggestions on ways to engage in family fun, build confident children, additional ways to strengthen and support your family, and for other great parenting tips call the Family Support Line at 1-800-CHILDREN (800-244-5373) OR 1-866-Las-Familias (866-527-3264) for Spanish speakers. You can also e-mail stacy@FamiliesFirstColorado.org with questions or concerns. Check us out on Facebook, at Families First Colorado. The Family Support Line offers parenting tips, resources and information only and does not serve as legal or mental health advice. We believe you are the paramount person to decide what is best for your family. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.