The baby was crying. The toddler was beating on pots and pans. The kindergartener was sick. And I had a list a mile long not getting done. And suddenly I realized my family was heading down a spiral of bad moods and bad ‘tudes.
I lost all empathy to every little thing that was happening. Because I was having a bad day.
…Meaning the referee, the nurturer, the provider in the family was sidelined.
And so now my kids were feeling frustrated, confused, and lost when put in stressful situations because they needed my empathy. And so we spiraled. Instead of building each other up, we would up getting trapped into a negative cycle of fueling each others’ bad moods.
How to shake a “family funk” based on the science of empathy
We’ve all felt that familiar feeling of being in a family funk at some point in time in our lives. That feeling of being in the dumps, or a bad mood. And when nobody seems to feel motivated or inspired. But there are some scientific ways to both shake it and prevent it.
It’s hard to think that having the funky feeling in your mind can trickle over to also affect other people in your vicinity, but it’s possible.
In fact, research indicates that a bad mood can inhibit empathy and empathy is what helps help families work together in unison and achieve family togetherness.
When the baby is having a bad day or the teenager sports an attitude, maybe when mom doesn’t feel well, everyone feels the effects of that.
So how in tune are each of you with each other’s emotions, really? It’s a safe bet to say if your family is going through a major transition emotions have been running high. And it can trickle down to start affecting everyone in the family.
And then “hello, family funk.”
It takes teamwork and communication and ultimate a complete family reset. It helps improve empathy and ultimately family togetherness.
Did you know simply connecting with each other and even others outside of the family is the number one way to shake the collective nasty attitudes and bad mood?
How to shake the family funk before it turns into pervasive negativity
Family funks can be a funny thing. One person in the family can be stuck in a mood by themselves, or everyone can all be in one together. And that phrase about if mama isn’t happy, nobody is can ring true for anyone in the family.
Rather than try to force a change of attitude and mindset, try to see if as a family unit, you can work together to transition out of that funk. Be patient, but persistent, in your love and respect for one another no matter what type of funk you may be going through. Remember, as a family, you are all in it, together.
Acknowledge that your family is acting a little funky.
Don’t beat around the bush here. If your family dynamic feels a little off, bring it to the attention of everyone to talk about it. Maybe it’s something that can be solved by having a simple conversation, maybe it’s not. But by having everyone talk about what they feel and what they have observed, it can help start the process of removing the funky feelings.
Try a change of scenery.
Sometimes the family funk can happen because we feel as though our lives have become monotonous or that we’re simply stuck in a rut. It’s easier to grow closer when you’re not confined to the stresses of every day.
Round up your crew and take a day trip somewhere new and different, and you might be surprised how well connected (and empathetic) you are towards each other. A surprise trip to shake up the scene in your house sounds like it could be a great idea to get some excitement started.
Looking for a family reset? Join our free challenge before it closes! Click Here.
Respect each other’s needs.
It’s a natural instinct to want to try to fix something when you feel that something is wrong.
It’s a parental instinct to want to fix what plagues our kids.
But sometimes, family members may just need their space to process their feelings. It may be hard to allow that space and understand the need for that space, but by giving that space, it shows your family members that you respect them enough to allow them to process their thoughts and needs and then decide when the time feels right for them to communicate with you, so that you can appropriately empathize.
Start a new tradition.
It’s an awesome feeling to look forward to something that excites you. Why not create a new tradition for you and your family to do together to try to ditch that funk?
A weekly trip to the bowling alley or a family hike can be just the change that you all need and gives that excitement to know that you have a family fun day planned every week. Traditions are a great way to plan for a fun family night.
Join our family reset challenge if you and your kids feel like you’re in a rut.
Hug it out.
Sometimes, a good hug can fix anything. Feeling a little cranky at your husband? Hug it out. Embracing each other in a loving way during times of frustration can help that stress and mood melt away. Kids feeling a little fussy in the morning before school? Sit down with them, and just hold them. Pause the morning rush and turn your focus to them. If you are calm and hugging them, you may be surprised that they suddenly become calmer as well and ready to tackle the day.
Set a new family goal
This is actually my favorite.
Having something to strive towards together… as a family is one of the best ways to inspire change and renewed gratification.
Even if you’re just setting goals individually and sharing them with each other, it helps create an encouraging team environment instead of disjointed or dysfunctional. And it builds empathy to understand the feelings of achieving or failing at every little milestone.
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Using the word “SMILE” this is a cheat sheet on how to reframe negative thoughts and words into something more positive for the family to focus on. And it’s an immediate shift from negative to positive!
Kara is an author, wife, and mother of 3 children living in Boston, MA. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and even helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!