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10 important habits of emotionally healthy families

Ah, family. The very word is likely to conjure up mixed emotions in most of us: peace yet resentment, happiness yet anger, jealousy yet joy, anxiety yet safety. Family members have a way of getting under our skin while simultaneously being some of our favorite people in the world.


So how do you navigate the tricky business of promoting the long-term health and wellbeing of your family? It requires ongoing effort, reflection, adjustment and flexibility.

Here are 10 vital habits practiced by families that function well and are mostly happy:

1. Set clear boundaries.

There are few things more important in life than deciding how you want to be treated by others—what kind of behavior you will and will not accept. Healthy families have very clear boundaries on how family members treat other members.

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Even children should be allowed to set boundaries between themselves and siblings/parents. Although they may not be able to assert many when young, they should be given increasing opportunities to create and set personal boundaries the older and more independent they become.

One of the best things we can teach our children is for them to teach other people how to treat them.

2. Practice kindness and compassion.

Most would agree that the people they take for granted the most in life are their own family members. We do this because, from a mental standpoint, we believe that they will “always be there” since we spend so much time with them, day in and day out.

While this is perfectly normal to a certain extent, healthy families pay attention to one another. They are physically, psychologically, and emotionally available to one another. They listen and discuss things when needed, demonstrate the fact that they care, and have compassion and empathy for one another.

3. Be intelligent with conflict resolution.

Conflict between individuals in healthy families is expected and considered a normal reality of family life. When they occur, methods for resolving conflicts pay respect to the aforementioned boundaries and ‘team spirit’ of the family. Interventions between duelling members are kept to a minimum and only as needed.

4. Express emotions intelligently.

In healthy families, people actively and conscientiously learn and practice emotional regulation. None of us “has it together” all the time, but even when they “lose it” healthy families do not resort to remarks laced with contempt, verbal, emotional, relational, or physical abuse when expressing their emotions.

5. Don’t play favorites.

We probably all know of a family where one person or child is treated better than the others. We may have even grown up in such a family—it is exceedingly common. It is quite normal to have preference for certain family members over others. It is even common for parents to feel closer to one child over another. As humans, we tend to gravitate psychologically and emotionally to those with whom we sense we have more in common.

Healthy families, however, do not let this influence the basic ways in which they treat and interact with other family members. In these families, each person’s worthiness is viewed as equal.

6. Celebrate individual accomplishments, and embrace (or at least accept) the differences.

Healthy families don’t compete with one another. Period.

Competition and rivalry between children is considered normal within very specific parameters, but in general it is never good for the wellbeing of a family if they are trying to one-up each other. For this to be possible, each family member benefits from recognizing and identifying with a particular ‘role’ that they play—both in the family, and in their lives/the world in general.

7. Function as a team.

A family is a sort of business, make no mistake. Healthy families view themselves as a ‘team’—their own mini-corporation if you will. And everyone contributes in some way to keep it running smoothly and stay in the green. Parents represent the CEO and CFO.

In healthy families, all members get to have their say and weigh in with their opinion on family matters and decisions, even if the CEO and CFO ultimately make the call.

8. Promote and practice acceptance—of self and others.

Healthy families recognize that their members aren’t perfect, will make mistakes, and can at least accept (if not associate with) the imperfections of others.

9. Know what you can and cannot control.

In healthy families, the members within it have a keen awareness of when something is beyond their control and it’s time to step away. Whether that’s a third sibling who steps aside from the other two siblings who just can’t seem to get along, or an aunt who—without fail at every family function—asks you why you’re not married yet. Learning to distance yourself from people that make you feel bad is a healthy response.

10. Have a shared value system.

Take a pair of siblings in almost any family—ones who grew up together in the same household environment, with the same parents, and many of the same childhood experiences—and you will see the power of genetics at play. Their personalities, temperament, personal tastes, and overall disposition may be totally opposite.

That said, healthy families tend to share a few key values, namely regular social companionship, and upholding themselves as high-functioning well-adjusted members of society.These shared values give them a sense of how to go through the world, and a sense of belonging to their family.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

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There is rightfully a lot of emphasis on preparing for the arrival of a new baby. The clothes! The nursery furniture! The gear! But, the thing about a baby registry is, well, your kids will keep on growing. Before you know it, they'll have new needs—and you'll probably have to foot the bill for the products yourself.

Thankfully, you don't have to break the bank when shopping for toddler products. Here are our favorite high-quality, budget-friendly finds to help with everything from meal time to bath time for the toddler set.

Comforts Fruit Crisps Variety Pack

Comforts fruit snacks

If there is one thing to know about toddlers, it is this: They love snacks. Keeping a variety on hand is easy when the pack already comes that way! Plus, we sure do appreciate that freeze-dried fruit is a healthier alternative to fruit snacks.

Comforts Electrolyte Drink

Comforts electrolyte drink

Between running (or toddling!) around all day and potentially developing a pickier palate, many toddlers can use a bit of extra help with replenishing their electrolytes—especially after they've experienced a tummy bug. We suggest keeping an electrolyte drink on hand.

Comforts Training Pants

Comforts training pants

When the time comes to start potty training, it sure helps to have some training pants on hand. If they didn't make it to the potty in time, these can help them learn their body's cues.

Comforts Nite Pants

comforts nite pants

Even when your toddler gets the hang of using the toilet during the day, nighttime training typically takes several months longer than day-time training. In the meantime, nite pants will still help them feel like the growing, big kid they are.

Comforts Baby Lotion

comforts baby lotion

Running, jumping, playing in sand, splashing in water—the daily life of a toddler can definitely irritate their skin! Help put a protective barrier between their delicate skin and the things they come into contact with every day with nourishing lotion.

Another great tip? Shopping the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices—and follow along on social media to see product releases and news at @comfortsforbaby.

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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