24 May Promoting Positive Change: Five Ways to Strengthen the Parent-Child Relationship
Every parent has had one of those days, the days when you sit down at night after the kids go to bed and wonder, “Did I do enough, are my children getting what they need to feel happy and secure in this crazy world?” Parents spend a good part of their day juggling the needs of their children, which often seem endless; morning routines, school requirements, sports, extracurricular activities, friends, and play dates, to name a few. It can become a daily challenge to find quality time with each child while managing the chaos of everyday life. The good news is you are not alone in your desire to do whatever is possible to connect to your children to promote emotional health and happiness.
Below are five daily rituals for parental engagement that will help to strengthen the parent-child bond and promote positive change in the home.
1. Give your children the gift of your time: There is nothing a young child needs more than the undivided time of his/her parent. As infants and toddlers, your children need to hear your voice, see your eyes, and feel your touch. As children get older, your role changes to become a more active participant in your child’s everyday achievements and struggles. Talk to your children, be present, get involved with your children’s lives and activities. Don’t get consumed with the “to do” list, put aside the laundry and give your children your time, there is no greater gift.
2. Turn off the electronics: Technology has become a big part of our everyday lives and no one knows that more than our children who are growing up in a technology saturated world. When children have their head buried in electronics, they are missing out on experiences and social interactions all around them. If you want to see this first hand, I challenge you to try this little experiment: turn off all electronics in your home and provide your children with a safe environment to play. Keep track of how often your children use their imagination, look at each other, engage each other in conversation, seek out parents, laugh, smile, and connect with others. It is those small moments of engagement that are so powerful for children to feel loved, accepted, cared for, and safe.
3. Teach your Children: Children get quite accustomed to hearing the word “no” in their daily life, so much so that they tend to block it out. Rather than saying “no” and redirecting, TEACH your children to solve problems. If your child is upset, help him to identify his feelings. Negative emotions should never be ignored or diminished. Walk your child through the process; “I can see you are feeling sad, that really upset you when Johnny took your toy, I wonder what you can do.“ Help your child to manage their feelings and solve problems. In so doing, you are giving them the tools to regulate their emotions and manage conflict independently, which are skills that are vital for healthy emotional development and independence.
4. Make Time for Yourself: Taking time for yourself is probably the last thing on the mind of most parents. Although this may be one of the most challenging things to change, it is also one of the most important. When we are overstressed and not taking care of ourselves we can become irritable, on edge, and angry. We miss opportunities to use positive parenting techniques and we become the parent that we don’t want to be. Lets model for our children the importance of having a healthy body and mind, of being physically active, and eating well. Take the time to care for yourself; your children (and You) will be a lot happier if you do.
5. Develop Family Rituals: Building family rituals is an important way to build connection within the family system. Take some time to think about your family’s rituals and ones that you would like to add as your children get older. Rituals such as eating together, family game night, bedtime routines, and special outings are just a few ways families can come together to give children a sense of love and belonging. Although these seem like simple everyday activities now, one day your children will look back at these memories as the defining moments of family life.
Holly Balazs, MA MFTI, is a Marriage and Family Therapy Intern. She currently works in private practice at Coastal Counseling. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Robyn, please call 1-888-470-4415.
This article and the information herein are for educational and informational purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional psychological or therapeutic services. The self-help information provided by this blog are solely the opinion of the bloggers and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction, diagnosis, or treatment of any kind. Instead, the information is designed to be used in conjunction with ongoing treatment provided by a mental health professional. Use the information in this blog at your own risk. All of the information is provided “as-is,” with no warranties of any kind, express or implied.