A happy, well-functioning family has many common features, but a lack of conflict isn’t one of them. All family members will sometimes rub each other the wrong way, argue with one another and hurt each other’s feelings, sometimes seriously. But the features common to happy families are security, trust, and tolerance; gratitude and pride in one another; and the enjoyment that comes from being playful with one another. Here are a few tips that may help encourage family harmony in the face of life’s events.

1. Speak kindly to each other.

If you do happen to use an unintended tone or language that sounds hurtful, excuse yourself. Let the other person know that the tone or language wasn’t intended to be harsh, and that you apologize.

2. Let each member of your family know what it is that you value in them.

Don’t take the contributions of your family for granted. If they are kind, generous, giving, helpful, or supportive, let them know.

3. Value the uniqueness of each member of your family.

What characteristics do your family members have that you find interesting, unique, or even wonderful? Celebrate the positive about those you love.

4. Use Sundays as a day to gather and meet about the week ahead.

Often schedules are overloaded and can be overwhelming as a result. Planning the week ahead and checking in with family members as to how they are doing, what is coming up in the week ahead, as well as, highlights and “low-lights” from the week past, can be a way of connecting and preventing potential problems or pitfalls in the coming week.

5. Have a plan for managing stress.

We all have a certain level of stress, and not all stress is bad. But too much stress can lead to distress, and this takes a toll on the body, the mind, and relationships. Exercise, creative pursuits, fun activities, and positive relationships all counteract the effects of stress.

6. Realize when to say “No”.

Everyone has a limit, what’s yours? Don’t take on too much to do and know when to stop. Keep this in mind with your children too. Children need down time and so do parents. Many times, kids are taking on too many after school activities, and combined with increased schoolwork this can lead to distress. Down time is time to do whatever you like, quiet or otherwise.

7. Find some Quiet Time daily.

This is just 10 minutes of time to think, relax, sip on a cup of tea/coffee, and be still. This is unplugged, nonelectronic time. Encourage your children to find quiet time, or still time. They could spend time in their room, laying on their bed, snuggling with you, walking outside, creating a craft, writing, drawing, or even looking out their window. Just 10 minutes to bring the mind back to quietness.

8. Spend time in nature.

So often we are caught up in our worlds of work, sports, and school we forget the beautiful force of nature and all the tranquil moments it provides to release stress.

9. Think positively and look for the positive in others.

This is hard, but every moment has it’s silver lining. Most of our irritations are small and inconsequential. If you can find it in your heart to forgive and move on with whatever hurt you have experienced, it will lighten your load. Sometimes our inner space gets completely taken up with negative feelings and thoughts that end up hurting ourselves. Most people do not intend to be hurtful, they make mistakes, as we all do. Find the beauty in others and they will find it in you.