Ten Habits to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child
- Tousle hair, pat backs, rub shoulders.
Make eye contact and smile, which is a different kind of touch. If your tween or teen rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realize that with older kids you have to ease into the connection. Get her settled with a cool drink, and chat as you give a foot rub. (Seem like going above and beyond? It’s a foolproof way to hear what happened in her life today. You’ll find yourself glad, many times, if you prioritize that.)
Laughter and rough-housing keep you connected with your child by stimulating endorphins and oxytocin in both of you. Making laughter a daily habit also gives your child a chance to laugh out the anxieties and upsets that otherwise make him feel disconnected — and more likely to act out. And play helps kids want to cooperate. Which is likely to work better?
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“Come eat your breakfast now!”
“Little Gorilla, it’s time for breakfast — Look, you have bugs and bananas on your oatmeal!”
- Turn off technology when you interact with your child.
Really. Your child will remember for the rest of her life that she was important enough to her parents that they turned off their phone to listen to her. Even turning off music in the car can be a powerful invitation to connect, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids (and adults) are more likely to open up and share.
- Connect before transitions.
Kids have a hard time transitioning from one thing to another. If you look him in the eye, use his name, and connect with him, then get him giggling, you’ll make sure he has the inner resources to manage himself through a transition.
- Make time for one on one time.
Do whatever you need to do to schedule 15 minutes with each child, separately, every day. Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want during that time. On her days, just pour your love into her and let her direct. On your days resist the urge to structure the ti
- Don’t Yell.
Sometimes it’s hard to hold it in, but most parents feel bad after yelling at their kids. If you want some ideas to help you stop yelling, something as simple as breathing can help to keep you calm.
- Laugh Together.
As Mayo Clinic reported, there are psychological and physical benefits of laughing — aside from making you feel straight up happy. Sharing some giggles with your kids makes your time together feel happy and makes you feel less stressed.
- Slow down and savor the moment.
Share the moment with your child: let him smell the strawberries before you put them in the smoothie. Put your hands in the running water together and share the cool rush of the water. Smell his hair. Listen to his laughter. Look him in the eyes. Connect in the magnificence of the present moment. Which is really the only way we can connect.
- Bedtime snuggle and chat.
Set your child’s bedtime a wee bit earlier with the assumption that you’ll spend some time visiting and snuggling in the dark. Those companionable, safe moments of connection invite whatever your child is currently grappling with to the surface, whether it’s something that happened at school, the way you snapped at them this morning, or their worries about tomorrow’s field trip. Do you have to resolve their problem right then? No. Just listen. Acknowledge feelings. Reassure your child that you hear their concern, and that together you’ll solve it, tomorrow. The next day, be sure to follow up. You’ll be amazed how your relationship with your child deepens. And don’t give this habit up as your child gets older. Late at night is often the only time teens will open up.
- Show up.
Most of us go through life half-present. But your child has only about 900 weeks of childhood with you before they leave your home. They’ll be gone before you know it. Try this as a practice: When you’re engaged with your child, just be right here, right now. You won’t be able to do it all the time. But if you do it every day for a bit, you’ll find yourself doing it more and more. Because you’ll find it creates those moments with your child that make your heart melt.
Compiler: Talieh Asadollahi (scientific-educational team, house of psychologists, counselors and supportive profession)