#4 Learn a new skill together “The very act of coming together to learn, to develop and to encourage is a bonding experience,” explains senior clinical psychologist DR LOHSNAH JEEVANANDAM, who has 15 years of experience working with children, teens and adults struggling with low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and a range of other mental health issues. So, whether it’s taking up tennis, learning to arrange flowers or even trying out an old family recipe, acquiring a new skill with your squad, no matter what it is, makes for some great bonding time and memory-building. #5 Squeeze in some meaningful screen time Family movie night is fun – and watching films or shows based on actual events with impactful messages “provides a vital opportunity to come together to enjoy a movie and also reflect on the many good things in our lives,” explains Dr Jeevanandam. Thai Cave Rescue and Daughters of Destiny , both on Netflix, are among some of the valuable TV series she recommends, as they’ve got “strong messages about belief, perseverance and love”. #6 Create a culture of support “Celebrate success and acknowledge efforts when someone shows love or demonstrates acts of kindness in the family. Make it a culture to cheer, encourage and support each other, using words of affirmation, and conveying positive vibes and well wishes,” advises Lilian. “When someone in the family is having a rough patch, offer a gentle word, comfort and support.” Touch, she says, is also a way of building closeness. She recommends giving a shoulder massage when a family member is tired and has had a hard day at work or school.

#7 Express affection and appreciation Affection can be physical – for example, hugs and kisses – or verbal (“I love you!”), but it’s important for affection to be communicated so that family members know they are loved, explains Dr Yeo. “Similarly, expressing appreciation for even the smallest task affirms to our family members that we see them and are grateful for them. We naturally open up and share more when we feel loved and appreciated.” #8 Find out each other’s love languages “Ask, ‘How do you know I love you?’ The answer indicates what the person appreciates,” says Dr Jeevanandam. “Knowing this piece of information is powerful because we may not always know what our family members appreciate. Once you find this out, you can then more conscientiously display that behaviour or say those special words. For example, if your child says, ‘Mummy, I know you love me because you tickle me,’ then tickle your child more!” #9 Connect with empathy “Make time to connect emotionally with a family member by practicing empathic listening. This means being attentive and aware of the other person’s feelings,” says senior clinical psychologist MONICA GO, who has over 15 years of clinical experience working with children, teens, adults and families. “There is wisdom in the saying ‘listen to understand’ rather than ‘listen to respond.’” #10 Practice acceptance “Acceptance paves the way for us to appreciate the uniqueness and value of each family member,” explains Monica. “Find ways to compromise and accept differences. It helps to accept that families are imperfectly perfect.” #11 Make time for self-reflection “Change starts from within. One way to deepen and strengthen family relationships is to practice self-reflection,” says Monica. “It takes courage to be vulnerable, and to say, ‘I’m sorry’ when we have hurt others with our words or actions.” Promises Healthcare #09-22/23 Novena Medical Centre, 10 Sinaran Drive 6397 7309 |



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