6 Great Strategies to Improve Your Parent-Child Relationship
While some parent-child relationships are fantastic, most of them could use some improvement. Enhancing the relationship takes time and effort on the part of parents and children. However, if your relationship is damaged, the repairs may take even longer. As parents, we often want to be the safe place and the disciplinarian. This can be a delicate balance. We have come up with a few ways to improve this balance and the relationship you have with your child.
Offering hugs, high fives, and pats on the back go a long way to help children feel connected. While every child does not enjoy physical touch, most children want to feel a physical connection to their environment. Psychology Today recommends twelve hugs or physical connections, but we do not want to make this too rigid. If you have been physically absent, suddenly counting twelve acts of physical connection can be off-putting to some children. However, you can make a conscious effort to offer your hugs, fist pumps, and shoulder rubs. If your child does not like physical touch, you might want to ease into it more. He or she may physically withdraw when hurt or unhappy. Opening back up will take time.
One on One Time
Children need to feel that they are important to you. They want to know that you are paying attention, as well. Look for activities that you can do together. If you have more than one child, it may mean that you have to schedule the activity with each child carefully, but children need to know that their siblings do not rank higher than them. Schedule meaningful one on one time, too. Send the rest of the family out of the house and try a new dessert recipe with your buddying chef. Make the time memorable, not forced.
If you want your child to be honest with you, show them how that looks. Tell them when you are uncomfortable and do not know what to do. Let them see you get frustrated but solve a problem. Ask your child to express their needs, as well. If you are trying to reach out to a child you hurt in the past, let them know how sorry you are for your mistakes and let them tell you what you need to do. Let them know how you feel about your actions and ask them how they feel. You are going to get into some uncomfortable conversations, but these conversations are necessary to grow your relationship. Let your child see that you are vulnerable, and you can admit your mistakes. Children will appreciate the honesty.
Whether you are practicing consistent discipline, schedules, or dinner times, make consistency a priority. If you have been inconsistent with discipline, your children are going to try to break you down. They want to know if they can still push as far as they always have. If you become more consistent in several aspects, children will respond positively.
Listen and Respect
You do not have to solve all of your child’s problems. Simply listening can make them feel better. VeryWellFamily even recommends creating a safe word. It can be a signal for your child to send when he or she needs to talk but doesn’t want advice, to be picked up from where there are no questions asked, or to help cope with what he or she is feeling. If your child feels like their feelings are being respected, he or she will often feel like opening up more.
Offer Spiritual Healing
Let your child understand your faith and religious beliefs. Your child needs to understand why you believe what you do and how you came to that decision. Consider taking a spiritual journey together if you want to strengthen your faith as well. One author who is sometimes equated with relationship help is Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages. He even has a book for teens and children. If you want to explore your relationship with a little spirituality thrown in, look at his book. If he is not the author for you, there are many other self-help books on the market that incorporate spirituality.
The bottom line is for you to try. You should keep working to improve your relationship even if it feels better. We can always improve relationships, even when they seem perfect. Letting your child know that you love him or her will go a long way to improving the relationship. Your job is not to change your child, but to change your relationship. While you may be a fantastic parent, strained relationships are often a two-way street. Consider what you can personally do to improve the relationship.