How can I build a better relationship with my child?

A close bond between parents and children is crucial in their directing the psychological growth and development. The parent-child relationship has far-reaching consequences throughout the lifetime of an individual, and affects everything from their health to the major life decisions they make. If you’ve been thinking about how to improve the relationship between your child and you, we have some tips for you to try:

Treat your child considerately!

Children don’t always wear their hearts on their sleeve, but often do have emotions that run deep. Be sensitive to your child’s feelings and anticipate their emotional responses before making major decisions that affect them. Involve them in making decisions and make them feel that their thoughts and feelings matter. Do think twice before venting out your frustration on them or subjecting them to an emotional outburst-children often don’t have the emotional resources to be as resilient as adults.  If your child has been unusually withdrawn or silent, make an effort to reach out to them and ask them what’s going on. The fact that you notice their emotions means more to your child that he or she lets on.

Let learning be a two-way street!

Like all human beings, children love feeling respected and listened to. The parent-child relationship is usually a one-way street, with parents usually always telling the child what to do, how to behave and how things work the way they do. Inverting this equation does wonders for improving bonding. For a change, ask your child open-ended questions and seek their thoughts and opinions. The next time your child asks you what they should do, ask them what they would like to do and why. This is a great way to build their trust and confidence, and for you to learn something new.

Be a part of their world!

Children only open up to us when we involve themselves in their world. Whether it’s playing a game, or joining them in something they are exploring, spend quality time with your child on their terms. Follow their lead and try out things they are interested in. Over time, you will find your child beginning to share things with you, without you having to ask.

Mix it up!

Think you know your child completely? Take your child on a surprise long-drive or take them for a nature walk, with no strings attached. A change of scene or a break from the routine, can bring out aspects of your child you have not discovered yet and get the two of you to bond better. Getting to know each other is easier, away from everyday expectations and rules.

When I was a child…

Share stories and snippets from your own life with your child. Letting them on your adventures and mischief from the past will let them see you in a new light, and love you even more for it. Don’t shy away from talking about tough times, mistakes or struggles- there’s probably a lot your child can learn from you in those respects.

Have family rituals!

Whether its a ‘no-TV’ family dinner, a special welcome home hug or a good night song, have a regular practice or a ritual that gives an opportunity for the family to come together at least once in a day. This can be a balm when either you or a child is going through a tough time and needs some extra support.

Building a strong bond with your child is an important cornerstone of your relationship and it is the foundation on which they will build their own identities as well as their relationships with the world. So do invest time, thought and energy in getting in right, and don’t let minor setbacks dishearten you.