5 ways to build a support system among family members

A family support system can be between immediate family members or a mix between extended and immediate family members.

Most family research suggests that healthy, supportive families typically have the following qualities:

Share appreciation

Show your family members that you care about them. If a family member does something impressive, at home or at work, let them know! It can be something as simple as thanking them for making you laugh or spending time with you. Make sure that you’re sincere. Expressing appreciation is a great way to strengthen family relationships. “Family members need to verbally complement one another,” said Brent Blaisdell, PsyD. “Expressing gratitude for your family members is one of the best ways to build relationships.”

Quality family time

“This may consist of occasional family mealtimes, recreation time, and supporting each other’s hobbies,” said Blaisdell. There are countless ways to spend time with your family. However, you need to make sure that family time is quality time, not just quantity time. Give your children and your partner your full attention when spending time together. Turn off your phone and really try to get to know your family member.

Healthy communication

Communication can be hard in your family, especially when there are so many places to be and things to do throughout the day. “Supportive families promote emotionally safe and direct communication between one another,” said Blaisdell. It’s important to let your kids and partner know how much you love and support them. The more you express your unwavering support for them, the more comfortable they will be to come to your with their problems, concerns and triumphs.

Develop strong problem-solving skills

As a parent, you have the opportunity to show your children productive ways of how to handle problems. Children learn from their parents how to interact with the world around them, including how to handle challenges in their life. “Parents should model positive ways to handle life’s challenges and allow children some autonomy to solve their own problems,” said Blaisdell. Of course, there are some times when you will need to intervene in your child’s challenges, but giving them the opportunity to solve their own problem helps them develop skills that they will benefit from the rest of their life.

Individual accountability

“Healthy families hold individual members accountable for their behavior and are supportive in times of need,” said Blaisdell. All family members need to be held accountable to what they say they will and won’t do. Part of building a strong family is being able to rely on others, but that is thwarted when someone doesn’t come through. In addition, it’s important to support family members when they are struggling. Helping them through the tough times will bring your family that much closer together.