I recently had a conversation with a mama who read The 4 Habits of Raising Joy-Filled Kids and is working on implementing the concepts introduced in this book. She was excited to introduce quieting and appreciation to her crew as well as some of the other relational skill practices the book talks about, but had some questions about how to get started.
Maybe the concept of relational skills is new to you and you are excited (and perhaps a bit intimidated) to try something new in your family, but you are wondering where to start. I will share with you what I share with mamas when we talk about those same questions.
Depending on what’s going on in your household, you may be eager to implement relational skills to put a halt to ugly conflicts and curb big meltdowns in your home. While relational skills are great tools for those messy moments, the place to start is when things are calm.
When introducing a new skill (whether quieting, practicing appreciation, interacting with Immanuel or noticing and returning if we are out of relational mode) it is easiest to learn when we are not already in distress. The calm moments are the best moments to learn to quiet. When in a good mood is the simplest time to start noticing what we appreciate. When we are feeling thankful is one of the easiest times to begin interacting with Immanuel and listening for His response. And when we are already in relational mode is the ideal time to begin learning about relational mode. Then we can observe the difference between how we feel now and how we felt in moments when we had fallen out of relational mode.
The more we practice these skills when things are peaceful, the easier it will become to use the skills when we are in distress.
Depending on the ages of your children there can be different approaches to introducing the skills. For younger children, you are likely to get a better response if you approach them with a playful voice and tell them you are going to try playing a new game. The Quiet Game, or the Appreciation Game, etc. Then, lead them through taking deep breaths or telling a story about a time that made them feel warm and fuzzy. At this age it is more about the practice than explaining or helping them understand what you are doing or why you are doing it.
As children get older, they appreciate understanding what you are having them do and how it might benefit them. If they still appreciate playfulness, any creative way you can make it fun for them will help them get on board faster. But with older kids you may just have to make it part of your family routine (like sharing appreciation from the day over dinner or taking a few quiet moments with deep breathing together in the morning).
Hopefully this helps you know where to start when introducing the relational skills to your crew. I also have a number of blogs written on these specific topics with example stories of when I used these skills in parenting (see the links above for a list of blogs on each topic) so check them out if you would like some more creative ideas.
And we would love to hear your creative ideas too! Please share in the comments any experiences you’ve had or creative ideas on how to introduce these skills to your family.0