A strong parent-child relationship is built as a parent and child spend time together. The hallmarks of a good relationship include trust, communication, love, attention, and encouragement. It is important to focus your efforts on ensuring that your time with your child is positive because positivity makes building a strong bond with your children much easier.
The Impact Parents Have on Their Children
The relationship between a parent and child goes beyond making sure the kids eat their vegetables, get enough sleep and do their homework. A study by researchers at Emory University found that children who had positive relationships with their parents were better able to handle stressful situations and challenges. Another study involved using data from the National Survey of Children’s Health to see if there was a connection between success and children who had a happy relationship with their parents. The study found that children who were happy at home and who had a high level of communication with their parents performed better in a variety of areas, including schoolwork and test scores, their social life and communication abilities. Conversely, those with low parental relationship scores were more likely to exhibit externalizing behavior. Interestingly, the results were very similar regardless of the families’ social status, cultural and ethnic background and economic status. In other words, happy home relationships were one of the main factors in children’s social and academic success.
5 Ways to Improve Your Parent-Child Relationship
So it is worth making the effort to improve your relationship with your children. A good parental relationship can impact kids’ lives outside of the home as well as inside of it.
Here are five parenting tips that can help you foster a positive parent-child relationship.
1. Be in the Moment with Them
It can be difficult to be “in the moment” with your child, especially if you have a busy work schedule. Furthermore, their phones, tablets, video games and other modern distractions can detract from your time together. Even if you are in the same room with your kids, you might not be paying attention to one another. Perhaps you can create device-free time when you can interact with your children (the device-free rule should apply to you as well as them).
You can also plan activities that allow you to interact with your children. You could have a picnic with them, play a board game, work on a project or visit a coffee shop together. If you try different activities, eventually you will find some that both you and your kids enjoy and that makes it easy to focus on each other instead of getting distracted.
2. Tell Them that you Love Them Often
Children might not always make a connection between your efforts to guide them towards the right actions and your affection for them. You need to make the fact that you care about them clear by telling them often that you love and care for them and that you want them to be happy.
The easiest way to do this is to tell them that you love them often. You can get in the habit of saying “I love you” when you drop them off for school or whenever you say goodbye to them. Or it may be easier to remember to tell them before bed or when they return from school each day. If you can get in the habit of reminding them that you love them often, then it won’t seem like you have to make a special effort to do so.
3. Eat Dinner as a Family
One of the easiest ways to spend time together is to eat dinner as a family each night. This may take some scheduling and it may not be possible every night (depending on your kids’ activities). However, dinner is the perfect time to have distraction-free discussions with your kids. When you are all at the table, you can engage them in conversation and find out what they are thinking and feeling.
4. Show Them That They're a Priority
Another reason to make sure that you have time together with your kids is so that you can show them they are a priority. You can demonstrate this in different ways depending on your child’s age and interests. If you have older children, you can make sure to attend their important events such as a school play or sports game in which they are participating.
For younger kids, you could engage in their favorite activity with them. Sometimes, you will be busy, but if you have to tell the kids that you are too busy now, follow that up by deciding on a definite time when you can help them or do their desired activity with them.
5. Encourage and Always be There to Help
You can try to be there to help your children whenever you can and always provide words of encouragement, especially when your child experiences struggle or disappointment. After they experience a setback, you can recognize their efforts and try to encourage them to do their best on a given task regardless of the outcome.
What May Hinder Your Parent-Child Relationship
Parenting tips often focus on what you should do, but you should also be aware of things that may hinder your relationship with your child. Certain actions or mistakes may undo the trust, love and communicative relationship that you have with your child.
If your kids do not know what is expected of them and if they are unaware of the affection and care that you have for them, then your parent-child relationship will suffer. The same will happen if your kids think that you will not listen to their needs or if you are distracted when they are trying to interact with you.
Abuse of Any Kind
Abuse of any kind - physical, mental, emotional - can do irreparable damage to your relationship with your children. Abuse can destroy trust and make your children afraid and resentful. In these cases, you likely need outside help to repair the relationship.
Trust is one of the most important aspects of a parent-child relationship. Abuse is an example of something that can damage trust, but there are less extreme causes of mistrust. You could damage trust by lying to your child or by punishing them for honest mistakes.
If you can avoid these setbacks, you can create a positive parent-child relationship that can help your child throughout their lives.