Children are our greatest investment. After all, they are the tiny creatures that we create, that are completely dependent on us for their every need.
For the most part, we want to have good relationships with our children. After all, we sacrifice our money, time, bodies, and freedom (to name a few) for their welfare. But for many of us, finding ways to have quality time to improve the relationship with our children is difficult.
There are many reasons that connecting with our children can be challenging.
For some of us, we didn’t have close relationships with our own parents. As a result, we don’t know how to have relationships with our children. We often carry on the same unhealthy habits and characteristics, that negatively we had with our parents into the parental dynamics our own children.
For others of us, anger management challenges may be the issue. Children will test your patience. Even though children are constantly making mistakes in their effort to learn how to live in this world, they have the potential to get under our skin in the process, especially when the mistakes that they make are preventive or hinder you in some way. As this occurs, if we don’t have the best anger management strategies, the ways that we handle these situations will negatively interfere with our relationships with our children.
Another barrier that interferes with the relationship that we have with our children, is that we are faced with our own, mental health difficulties. Depression and anxiety are most common, but trauma follows closely. When we have unresolved mental health needs of our own, this affects our children and the way that we interact with them. Not only does it bring tension within the relationship, but it teaches our children poor relationship skills that they then repeat. As a result, the cycle of a lack of emotional attachment continues which interferes with the relationship that we have with our children.
Now that we have reviewed why this happens, let’s discuss a few strategies to eliminate this from occurring.
Here are 5 ways to improve your relationship with your children:
Take time out of your day to interact directly your child. I know that this is challenging as many of us are busy with work and other family dynamics. We may overlook the importance of finding ways to interact with our children, especially when there is more than one, as we will often find that our time is limited. But believe it or not, as little as five minutes a day, could make a huge difference in the way that we interact with our children. Even better, you can use tasks that you already have to do to do this. Here is an example of how you can take brushing your teeth as an opportunity to connect directly with your child.
- Play a game with your child as you’re brushing your teeth.
- You can make faces in the mirror while brushing your teeth.
- Get on their eye level while making silly faces with one another while brushing your teeth.
- You can dance while brushing your teeth.
Here, a mundane tasks that you have to do no matter what, can be used as an opportunity to have fun with your child. Feel free to use this tasks, or apply these types of skills to other tasks that must be completed so that you can improve the relationship that you have with your child.
Say “I’m sorry” when you have been inappropriate. The reality is, many parents would rather gauge their eyes out, than admit to their child when they are wrong.
Why is this?
Is protecting your ego more important than protecting your child’s well-being?
Apologizing, teaches your child that you are human. By seeing you as a human being with shortcomings, this will promote your child’s ability to have more empathy for you, and will assists your child in having more empathy for themselves as well. It will also teach the importance of being accountable for good behavior and encourages them to model after you. Failure to say “I’m sorry” when you are wrong, says more about you, then it does your children. It also sends the message to your children, that they do not matter.
Try to prevent negative interactions. This is key, because if you are paying attention to your children and your interactions with them, you should see that many of the negative interactions that you have can be prevented. Let’s take for instance that your child has a hard time getting out of the door in the morning for school. You could encourage your child to go to bed earlier, get their clothes out at night, create a schedule for them to follow on their way to school, and reward them for compliance appropriately. If your child knows what to expect, then the chances of them cooperating with you will increase substantially.
Don’t bad mouth your child’s other parent in front of your child. The fact remains, just because you might not like something that your child’s parent does, doesn’t mean that your child doesn’t like them. Criticizing them, in front of your child is unfair to your child because even in relationships where things are good with one parent, they still might find solace with the other parent. If you taint the image that your child has of the other parent, it’s like tainting an image of your child’s hero. It’s not fair to that child and might create significant breeding room for the child to resent you. This applies in situations where even the child does not like their other parent. Should a grievance need to be expressed, it should come from the child and not you. After all, if a child has an estranged relationship with a parent, that’s traumatic enough. You’re added insult to a child’s pain doesn’t make the wound go away; it rather feeds further areas of discord in places where a child is already trying to sort themselves out.
Try to find creative ways to reward your child’s positive behaviors. When children misbehave, sometimes that’s all we focus on. This might cause us to forget, that when you reward something that you like, there is a greater chance that it will be repeated. Therefore, if more positive interactions occur, there is less space for negative ones to occur. These rewards can be as little as saying “thank you” and / or “I’m proud of you.” If you have one child that is behaving, and another one that’s not, you can directly compliment and praise the child that is behaving which would likely send a message to the other child to redirect whatever it is that they are doing. You can also do things like offer chores or create reward charts for your children. Remember, rewards do not have to be monetary. Examples of non-monetary rewards include sitting in the front seat of the car, getting an extra 30 minutes before bedtime, or reading a special story to your beloved child. Basically, anything that your child likes could be used to reward good behavior.
Parenting is so hard. In fact, it is the hardest job you’ll ever have. If you would like some help on how to improve your relationship with your child,