Build a positive relationship with your child
A small investment for an ever-growing outcome:
by Milanie Niemand
The relationship between a parent and a child is among the most significant in a person’s life. As one of the earliest connections a child has, the parental relationship sets the bar for every relationship thereafter.
Positive parent-child bonds foster autonomy, curiosity, self-esteem and better decision-making skills. With a healthy parent-child relationship, children learn respect, empathy, cooperation, motivation, and most of all, improved emotional intelligence. A child with a positive adult-child relationship at home is even more inclined to a positive and healthy relationship with other adults. The benefits start early, with their school teacher, increasing their positive outcomes at school. By the teenage years, a child uses past positive adult-child relationships as a foundation with which to interact with teachers, coaches, parents and peers. As a young adult, good relationships with their seniors, supervisors and bosses at work will ensure continuation of a healthy self-esteem and help them to be more resilient with the stress and difficulties encountered in their work and personal life. We live in a day and age where social media and its potential is rapidly growing and a supportive and open relationship with your child is more important than ever. This not only ensures that you always know what is going on in your child’s life and you can guide them safely through this vast cyber world, but also how to maintain a positive self-image.
It’s quite a big responsibility: to establish a good relationship with your child. But there are many ways to achieve it. Let’s look at a few:
How do you spell love? T-I-M-E
By now you have probably heard of the importance of spending time together, over and over again. This is not new information, but so easily underestimated! Children will see your love in the time you spend with them. Family activities, outings, and projects are all about spending quality time and making memories.
Really good eye contact
Nothing says to a child, “You are important and worth listening to”, better than looking them in the eyes when they are talking, or when you want to tell them something. This simple little non-verbal act is so incredibly important. Sometimes this means getting down to their level or raising them up to yours to be able to really “see” them. Whether it is about how much you love them, or whether you need to discipline, eye contact makes your words go so much further.
Be a good listener
Sometimes your child just needs you to listen to their feelings or experiences. The technique of mirroring works wonders to show you are listening, without judgement. With mirroring, you repeat back to your child what they just said, but in your own words. For example: Your child tells the story of how his friend did not want to share the toy at school today. You will say, “I hear you say that Adam did not want to share the train with you today. Tell me more.” Immediately, your child has evidence that you are listening and are open to more conversation. With older children who are willing to talk more about their feelings, they also get the opportunity to hear their words as an outsider, because you are repeating what they said. They will feel understood and supported.
Be silly and have fun with them
Children want to play. They need to play; it is a universal and inalienable right of childhood. By joining them in play, you meet them where they are. You affirm their right to enjoy play. Yes, they will test their boundaries and see how far they can push you for more, but even if they don’t know how to show it, they gain respect for you by seeing that you respect their need for play.
Create a mom-and-me journal
I recently discovered this activity to engage with your child and I can’t wait to start. The idea is simple. Start a journal, which is a private messaging book, between the two of you. You write a message to your child and leave the book somewhere they will find it (like under their pillow). Now they respond to you. For the very young ones, it can just be drawing pictures for one another. There is no time constraint. It is a judgment-free and private zone for your child that they can safely share with you. Do not correct spelling errors! Let them be absolutely themselves. Do not dictate what they should say. You will both enjoy looking back on messages from long ago. This is an especially great activity if you have several children and struggle to find alone time with each one. Dads, there is no reason why you can’t do a dad-and-me journal – your kids will love it!
Random acts of kindness
Using your time together to bless someone else helps them to develop empathy, be thankful, and be aware of the needs of others. Apart from the known and valuable activities like taking cookies to the old-age home, etc, you could also try the following quick and easy acts together: Leave a sticky note on the public bathroom mirror that says: “You are beautiful!” Or on the public baby changing table that says: “You are a great mom!”, or leave a flower on the windscreens of cars in the parking lot outside a hospital … the possibilities are endless, and thinking up new ideas together, could be part of the fun.
The benefits of a strong and connected parent-child bond are endless and worth so much more than the time and effort put into establishing this relationship. Just do it!
For more information, or to experience fun, creative and relaxing family bonding sessions, you are welcome to contact me.
Cell Phone: 083 651 3751
T: 021 976 4985