Parents deeply value building strong, loving relationships with their children and can often look for ideas on how to improve my relationship with my child. In fact, many parents say that their relationships with their children are one of the most important aspects of their life. Yet, it is all too easy to lose sight of this in the chaos of day to day family life. It is easy to become disconnected. Fortunately, you can choose to step closer to your child and deepen your relationship. Thanks to Dr Koa Whittingham, clinical and developmental psychologist, for these 17 bright ideas on How To Improve My Relationship With My Child:
Be yourself – Stop trying to channel your idea of a perfect parent and start being yourself. We can all debate about what the mythical ‘perfect parent’ might do but, in the end, your child does not want a relationship with a cardboard cut-out perfect parent. Your child wants to have a relationship with you. So, start by being yourself with your child.
Understand your child’s perspective – Take the time to imagine how your child thinks and feels. Really put yourself in their shoes. You might find it helpful to spend time remembering the passions, worries and concerns of your own childhood to help you to see the world from a child’s perspective again.
Be affectionate – Show your love with physical affection, in a way that meets the needs of your child. A great way to help when you wonder how to improve my relationship with my child.
Be kind – Deliberately choose to show kindness to your child. In the midst of daily interactions, pause for a moment and think, what is the kind thing to do?
Take care of yourself – You need to take care of yourself so that you can continue to take care of your child. So, treat yourself with the same kindness and love that you are trying to show for your child.
Say “I love you”. Express your love verbally honestly and often. Use whatever words feel right to you. Notice the words that your child enjoys and repeat them.
Be sincere – Don’t say nice things for the sake of it. If you do, your child will notice this and tune out. Instead, say the nice things that you actually mean. All children have wonderful characteristics, and do incredible things. What incredible things did your child do today?
Embrace mistakes – Embrace mistakes, both your child’s and your own. You are both human and you can still love each other fully, exactly as you are.
Be mindful – We all get lost sometimes in memories of the past, imaginings of the future and daydreams. But your children exist in the present moment, the here and now. Practise mindfulness, deliberately keeping your attention in the here and now, with your child.
Embrace the adventure – Parenting is riddled with uncertainty, often questioning how to improve my relationship with my child. It is impossible to know exactly how your parenting journey will unfold or even who your child will become. Frightening, huh? But it is also part of what makes parenting worthwhile so embrace the adventure.
Play – Spend time just playing with your child. No teaching, no correcting, no goals. Just play.
Listen – Tune in to what your child is saying, not so that you can come up with the perfect response, or so that you can better change your child. What would it be like if you could listen, really listen, to what your child is saying, just for the sake of truly understanding them?
Let your child lead – Regularly let go of your own preconceptions and follow your child’s lead in play and in conversation.
Find daily rituals – Daily rituals can keep a parent and child connecting even when life gets busy or tough. Bedtime stories, morning cuddles and family dinners can be powerful daily events. There’s no right or wrong in the kinds of rituals you create so discover what works for you and what your child enjoys. If your daily rituals are no longer fun, change them.
Show your joy – Tune in to that joyful delight that your child triggers in you and let it show. Particularly when reuniting with your child and when your child is keen to share something with you, let your joy be known.
Share your child’s world – Get to know the world your child lives in. Watch their favourite shows with them, get to know their teacher and friends and play with their favourite toys with them. You’ll be amazed what you’ll discover.
Be there – When your child needs you, when your child asks for you, be there. Choose to show up physically and psychologically. Even if what you do seems to make no difference, your child will remember that you were there and that you can be depended upon.
- Dr Koa Whittingham is a clinical and developmental psychologist, a parenting researcher at the University of Queensland and the author of Becoming Mum. Becoming Mum offers psychological support for the transition to motherhood and is grounded in the latest science including Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, mindfulness-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Attachment Theory. Koa regularly blogs about parenting at her blog Parenting from the Heart.
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