Since many of us are spending a little more time with our partners, children, or other family members because of COVID-19 precautions, our emotions may be bumping into one another more than usual. Tensions can run high in close quarters, and it might be really hard to see our family members in a positive light at times.

All those little things that might have annoyed us or might not have even been noticeable are now gnawing away our tolerance and patience. Those major things that blatantly bothered us can’t be ignored by spending hours and hours away from the house.

Scavenger hunts have been a great way for families to be entertained and engaged with parks, restaurants, and so many other things closed or limited.

Here’s a new version: the “Being Seen” Scavenger Hunt.

This is a sort of secret game to play with whomever is home; your children, partner, parents, siblings, cousins, etc. There are 3 steps.

1. Throughout the day, make a note of whenever you notice someone showing courage, kindness, fortitude, trust, flexibility, resilience, self-compassion, generosity, or thoughtfulness.
2. Write down what specific action or interaction made you notice this on a piece of paper, fold it up, and place it in a jar, shoe box, envelope, or some other container.
3. At the end of the day, gather together and read the notes aloud.

If our focus is on negativity (the things that are “wrong”, the things that bother us, the things we don’t like), that negativity is all we see. This generally isn’t an accurate representation of a person or a relationship and it short-changes everyone involved. Behaviors and qualities are also fostered or diminished by the attention and response they get.

If you’d like your child to be more resilient or your spouse to be more attentive, giving them concrete examples of how they currently do that lays a foundation for more of that to be built upon.

From a behavioral perspective, not knowing when something is going to be reinforced creates a stronger drive to do that behavior.

For example, if you want your kids to get along rather than constantly arguing, you could surprise them by writing down “I noticed when you wanted to play different video games at the same time, you came up with a plan to play one game first and another game after instead of yelling.”

Or “I saw you give the controller to your brother so he could go first.”

Here are few other examples for the whole family:

“I saw you be calm and flexible when we had to change our plans at the last minute.”
“I saw your thoughtfulness when you took the kids outside so I could have some time alone.”
“I saw you show kindness to your sister when you read her a story.”
“I saw you show trust that your dad could fix your bike when the pedal broke.”

Keeping an eye out for positive traits reminds us that the people we are close to are noteworthy, and it also reminds us to exhibit these qualities whenever we can.

Sharing what we noticed at the end of the day sends the message that “I see you” and adds an element of loving surprise that motivates us to keep seeing and keep being seen.