I would imagine a lot of you have heard the phase "Time is money." This phrase has become a well-known phrase in culture today. Why is this so? It is because time is a valuable resource. Families especially have a lot of different demands for their time and energy. So much so, that time and connection can become scarce for families. That is why in my Danville counseling practice, I try to provide opportunities for time and connection for the families I see, as well as giving them ideas in which to fit these resources in their day to day busy lives.
One of my favorite ways to foster connection is through an intervention called "Catch People Caring." This idea came from a program at an agency that I worked for where coworkers would recognize each other for good deeds or for going beyond their job description. In my Danville therapy practice, I have adapted this idea to fit family counseling, and I wanted to share it with you all.
It is a simple idea. Basically, I prompt family members to be intentional in looking for instances where they notice their family members doing something well, kind or caring for someone else. For example, a parent may notice that one of their kids followed their directive the first time they asked or a sibling noticed that one of their siblings went out of their way to them with a homework problem. For younger kids, it can framed as asking them to be like detectives looking for evidence of kindness, caring, and following the rules in the family.
The idea is to turn attention to things family members are doing well as opposed to giving negative attention to a time when a child refuses to follow a directive or a family member says a rude comment to another family member. Yes of course, boundaries need to be held, and addressed. However, the catch people caring activity adds instances of positive attention, which feel really good, especially for someone who receives a lot of negative attention. These experiences then cause family members to seek out these feelings and result in more positive interactions between family members, adding to connection between families.
A fun, visual way to do this is by having a "catch people caring jar." Buy a clear glass or plastic jar and some different colored vase filler gems (family members can each pick a color). Then when a family member notices an opportunity to give a catch people caring praise they take one of that person's colored gems and put it in the jar as they praise that person. Keep doing this until the jar is full or until you run out of gems, then empty the jar and start again!