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Your Family Strengths: Caring and Appreciation

Loving and caring in families involves much more than the feeling of love. It involves loving actions even at times when we don't feel especially loving.

Recent national studies affirm the importance of love and caring in families. Research shows that expressions of affection toward children reduce problem behaviors and enhance children's development. Love is the single most important principle of parenting. If children do not feel cherished and loved, little else that parents do will have its maximum influence. Expressions of kindness increase family life satisfaction.

Strong families notice and share positive aspects of each other. For example, they pay attention to another person's polite behavior or something nice he or she did or said. They notice the talents, skills and achievements, special qualities, and characteristics that make the other person unique. They find ways to be positive even when another family member makes a mistake. They make a conscious effort to develop closeness and show love at home.

Here are some ideas for strengthening caring and appreciation in your family:

Love Notes. Write a short love note to encourage someone or express appreciation. Put the note under the person's pillow or in a backpack, briefcase, or purse. Write something like "James, I'm proud of you for working so hard on your spelling words! Love, Dad."

Remember the Power of Touch. Touch can be a powerful way of showing affection, love, and appreciation. Small children often like to snuggle with their parents. A quick pat, a hug, a kiss, a handclasp, or an arm around the shoulder can say a lot to people of all ages.

Kindling Kindness. Treat family members as good friends. Ask children and other family members to do things rather than demand that they do them. Compliment good behavior. Thank family members for their efforts. Ask for opinions. Listen to comments. Avoid saying anything that is unkind or sarcastic.

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