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A Family Exercise

A family exercise compiled by Cynthia Gill MA, LMFT. This is one tool to build relationships, appreciation, and provide support for each other. Cynthia compiled this list after learning about the benefits of having regular family meetings from an article at

A suggestion is to do this once a day when the family is together. May also be done with just one or two people.

1. Each family member affirms something about another family member. Be sure everyone has something affirmed about him/her. If time, each person can say something they appreciate about each family member. Focus on character qualities: honesty, hardworking, loving, patient, not giving-up (perseverance), generous, determined, encouraging, caring, etc. May also affirm things you are grateful for about a family member (ex.: helping me with my homework). Noticing a person's character and effort brings deeper encouragement than commenting on their physical attributes or talents.

2. Identify a feeling word and tell a time you felt that wat Note: if you say "I felt like..." that is not a feeling, that is a thought. Also, avoid blame, ("he/she made me feel"). Use words like proud, sad, angry, scared, mixed-up, happy, guilty, nervous, jealous, disappointed, hopeful, etc. Do not allow shaming or criticizing, rather teach each family member to simply accept the person's feelings without judging them.

3. Listen by saying "I heard you say..." without arguing or interpreting what they are saying. Thank them for sharing, do not talk at them trying to give them unasked for advice in response to what they said. Just practice listening in a gentle and supportive manner.

4. Every night ask them 3 or 4of these questions:

  • How were you kind today?

  • How were you brave today?

  • How were you challenged today?

  • What made you laugh today?

  • What made you sad today?

  • What did you enjoy today?

  • What were you grateful for today?

  • Who did you enjoy spending time with today? What did you like about him or her?

  • Did anything happen today that made you angry or upset?

  • When was the last time you apologized to someone, or someone apologized to you? What happened?

  • Which subjects in school are the easiest to pay attention to? The most challenging?

  • How did you fail today? (This last question will help them see that failures are nothing to be ashamed of, and being open is much better. Be sure to lead the way, sharing how you failed in something.)

For further assistance, please call 763-566-0088 and speak to our Client Services Coordinator or stop by the NewPath Mental Health Services office at 8401 Wayzata Blvd., Suite 340, Golden Valley, MN 55426 to find out about services you are interested in.


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