Children thrive on the feelings of belonging and affection that come from having caring and supportive families. Research shows that the quality of family relationships is more important for children’s wellbeing than the size or composition of the family. Whether families have one parent or two, whether they include step-parents, grandparents or other carers, children can experience strong, positive family relationships that promote family wellbeing and support children’s mental health.

The keys to developing healthy family relationships include making relationships a priority, communicating effectively and providing support for each other. To create strong family relationships and promote a sense of belonging for the whole family, families can:

  • dedicate quality time to each family member, which will show them you value and appreciate them
  • create a caring environment by being available when a family member needs support
  • incorporate family rules so children can trust that you will be consistent in the way you care for them
  • be a positive role-model by being caring and respectful towards others
  • take the time to play with children and create experiences of teamwork, where each person has a unique role. This will help each child understand the principles of inclusiveness and belonging
  • allow each child to be part of discussions about simple decisions such as what to have for dinner. This will also develop their skills in compromising
  • create family routines. This gives children a sense of predictability and an understanding of what is important within the family.

Tips for fun rituals

Here are some suggestions to help incorporate rituals into your family routine:

  • make time for an activity that a child enjoys
  • read a bedtime story
  • allow all members of the family to take turns offering ideas for family activities each month
  • during mealtime, ask the children to think of something they would like to know about you or your family
  • look through old family photos and talk about your family history.

Resources

Belonging begins at home

Good family relationships: how to build them

Rituals: What are they and why are they important?

The building blocks of healthy family relationships