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Father and Son with Strong Relationship

The Parent-Child Relationship

The relationship a child has with a parent or caregiver is one of the most important connections they'll have in their lifetime. The parent-child relationship becomes a model for future relationships; when the parent-child relationship is one that's modeled on love, mutual respect, and trust then the child's future relationships are likely to be as well.

Parents who have a close connection with their child typically have an easier time parenting them because the child is much more likely to feel cooperative and trust that their parent is making a choice in their best interest.


Ways to Strengthen Your Parent-Child Relationship

Being a parent is difficult. It can feel like an enormous task just meeting your family's daily basic needs, let alone finding ways to strengthen that connection beyond the basics. And as children get older, the ways that you interact with them change as they seek more independence. No matter how old your child is, though, there are simple ways you can connect with them to help strengthen your bond.

Use words and actions to show your love.

Kids need to know you love them. Parents should show that through their words and actions. Psychology Today recommends having five positive interactions for every one negative interaction. So for every argument you and your child have, try to counteract it with five demonstrations of your love. This can be hugging them, telling them you love them, or even a warm pat on the shoulder as you are walking down the street. This creates a sense of security, that even if you are angry with each other, they are still loved.

Find ways to play together.

Play is a vital part of childhood. Mr. Rogers called it the work of childhood. But the importance of play doesn't disappear when children get older. It's a way to create a bond with your child that's not purely based on your authority. You can show them you have a fun side, too, and connect with them in a different way. When children are young, play with their toys with them, get involved in board games, or go on walks together in nature. As they get older, you can adapt to those activities. Take an interest in their hobbies or take up a sport together.

Turn off the phones and the technology.

Technology is a part of life now. Many parents lament the amount of time their children spend on devices like tablets and cell phones. But that's a two-way street. An article from ABC News says that "many children feel 'sad', 'ignored' and 'angry' about their parents' mobile phone use." Turning off your cell phone or leaving it in the other room while you spend time with your child is a signal to them that they are more important to you than anything happening online. Make it a two-way deal and ask your older children to set their devices down during dinner or designate a certain night of the week as tech-free.

Eat meals as a family.

It's may be old advice, but it's as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. Eating meals together as a family is a great way to connect with each other. Do it at the dining room table without the distraction of cell phones or televisions. Give each person an opportunity to talk about their days. Ask open-ended questions to help facilitate conversation, such as "What made you feel happy today?" or "What was something you want to do better tomorrow?" An article in the Washington Post says that research shows frequent family dinners can help increase children's vocabulary, increase healthy eating habits, and even lower the risk of depression and suicidal thoughts.

Involve them in decision making.

Everyone likes to give their opinion, and it's no different for children. Involving children in the decision-making process shows them that you value their opinions and want to listen to them. That can help increase their self-confidence and make them better decision makers when they are older. For younger children, allow them to make decisions about the clothing they wear or the activities that you do during the day with them. Older children can help with bigger decisions, like what to eat for dinner or where to go on vacation. The trick for parents is to actually follow through on those decisions. If you ask for their opinion, make sure you live with their choices.

Let them help you.

Sometimes it feels like more work to have children help you around the house. You can probably do things faster on your own. But allowing them to help you isn't just good skill building, it's relationship building, too. Having children help you in the garden, for instance, can teach them about growing vegetables. But it also gets them out in the sunshine, gives them quality time with you, and is an opportunity for them to open up about their lives. Even helping put away groceries can be a chance to connect with them. It's likely to make tasks more fun for you, too.

We Understand

Kentwood Preparatory School understands the importance of parent-child relationships. We work closely with the families of our students, providing parenting workshops throughout the year. Our goal is to help overcome challenges not just academically but struggles that you may be experiencing at home, too.

Call (561) 649-6141 to ask how we can help.


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