It’s common in groups and particularly in families for adults and children to fall into roles that become increasingly stuck. For example one parent or carer might be seen as the disciplinarian and the other the soft one; one child might be viewed as the clever one and another, the one that gets into trouble, or the reliable one vs the one that can’t be trusted.

Labels like this are over-simplifications and prevent the family from recognising qualities, interests and the potential to develop that each person has. In fact it can be very frustrating for adults and children to be viewed in this way. This is because when families build up fixed expectations for each person, it can become increasingly difficult for individuals to find opportunities to be seen differently and sometimes they stop trying.

If this sounds familiar, try to spend some time thinking about the different qualities of each family member, what they are good at and what you appreciate about them. Try to allow your expectations of them to open up by questioning the stereotype. Notice when they say and do things that don’t conform to the box they’ve been put in, try to show that you’ve noticed and put into words that you value it. This encourages a more balanced view of family members and more positive family dynamics.