How to enhance your relationship with your child
We all want a positive and meaningful connection with our children. We want those moments when the bond between our kids and ourselves feels unbreakable, like the most beautiful thing in the world. When they make us melt with love and affection for the things they say and do.
But sometimes it doesn’t feel this way. There are times when the relationship we share with our children becomes strained and distant, when we’re tired, frazzled and short on patience.
In the same way a relationship or marriage needs positive attention to thrive, so too does our relationship with or children.
Here are some ways to ensure a happy and meaningful relationship with your children, no matter their age or stage of life.
Spend quality time with your child
This doesn’t need to be a big deal, setting aside hours and hours of time, it can be as simple as a coffee/lunch/breakfast, a before school chat, a walk around the block or quiet time together before bed. This will provide an opportunity to talk and connect and find out what’s going on in your child’s mind.
Ask don’t tell
Invite your child into turn-taking reflective dialogues. You can do this through the use of open questions, which give(s?) your child a space to reflect and answer in their own way. Create an opportunity for ideas or issues to be discussed and shared. This might be during a drive in the car or as they’re helping you prepare dinner or simply during a cuddle before bedtime. Remember to keep the questions open-ended. The use of closed questions can sometimes result in you missing the opportunity to create a free space for conversation and may end up with one-word answers.
Allow space for mistakes
Provide your child with the space to make mistakes and learn from them. All too often we’re rushing and want things to be correct or perfect immediately. As parents we’re often under pressure to get things done quickly so we can move on to the next task. Knowing when to step in and when to stay back can be tough, but it’s also one of the best parenting tools you have. Whether it is learning a new skill, doing homework or a task, as long as they’re in a safe environment, allowing our kids to make mistakes and learn from them will help them to learn to persevere and be resilient.
Delight in your kids’ achievements
Too often we pay attention to things that need improvement or are a challenge for our children rather than taking the time to praise their achievements. Telling our kids we are proud of them and recognising their achievements will instil confidence in them and help them build positive feelings about themselves and their capacity to achieve. One of greatest gifts we, as parents, can give our children is to tell them that we are proud of them. Look for reasons to be proud!
Give them responsibility
Giving children age-appropriate responsibilities is a powerful way to promote positive development in all sorts of areas. One of the best ways to generate a sense of self-reliance and independence is to give them chores around the house. When children are required to do various tasks they learn self-discipline, time management, empathy and the importance of being part of a family unit.
Find lessons in conflict
Turn parent-child conflicts into opportunities for learning, understanding and strengthening your relationship with your child. Timing is essential when your child needs to reflect on their behaviour, but too much time left alone with their feelings can be overwhelming and unmanageable. Helping your child to develop effective ways of resolving conflict will also strengthen your relationship with them. By creating boundaries, teaching respect and showing love, your child will receive a message that you are there to guide them through difficult emotions and situations and they will emerge feeling resolved, loved, respected and stronger.
Set boundaries and stick to them
While it is important to let your child know that he or she is accountable for their own behaviour – the good and the bad – there have to be firm guidelines in place to guide them. Children need limits for their safety and wellbeing and once defined, they need to be stuck to. As parents, it’s vital to have conversations with our partners about ‘non-negotiable’ versus ‘negotiable’ things and to both stick to them. Try not to create unnecessary limits, just necessary ones and more than anything, work on making sure you have a strong and loving connection with your child so that when setting limits they know it is coming from a place of love.