Your children are the center of your world. Do they know that? How can you strengthen your bond with them?
While anyone with the right biology can become a parent, it takes a special person to be a mom or dad. Here are five ways to enhance your relationship with your children and show them how much you care.
1. Discover and Address Their Attachment Style
Hopefully, your child is developing a secure attachment style. What does this mean? People with this style can express love to another, but they can also act independently. Children who fall into this category might cry a little the first day you drop them off at daycare — but they quickly adapt and learn to love their new environment, trusting that you will return at day’s end.
Before you can determine your child’s style, it helps to figure out yours. After all, the way you behave toward your little one ultimately influences how safe they feel in the world. For example, if you have an anxious-preoccupied attachment style, you might tend to “helicopter” and cling too tightly to your little one. Those who are dismissive may tend toward neglect, leading their little ones to flounder and wonder whom they can rely on.
Fortunately, you can improve how you relate to others, even if you have an insecure attachment style. Communicating with your little one and learning to listen when they talk to you is the first step. It also helps to practice emotional intelligence. One way is by identifying your feelings. You can find posters, books and charts to help you teach your child how to put big feels into words.
2. Provide Specific, Meaningful Praise
Complimenting your child is a good idea — if you make your praise sincere. Research suggests that doing so can improve productivity and performance. Recognizing your child’s achievements in school could make them even more eager to bring home more high marks in the future. Pay attention to their science fair project and how they did on their most recent test. You can encourage them without nagging or demanding they do more than they feel able to do.
However, faux compliments have the opposite effect of what’s intended — they can make the recipient feel less positive. At the very least, they shouldn’t suspect you of telling a whopper. Therefore, be careful. It’s one thing to say that your child’s painting is so good, it deserves a select spot in the Louvre. Maybe you do have a budding da Vinci on your hands, but you could always stick to praising their brave use of color or energetic brush strokes to keep things real.
3. Involve Them in Daily Decision-Making
What’s for dinner? The next time your little ones come to you with this question, why don’t you turn the tables? You don’t have to say, “whatever you like,” if you know the answer will be pizza or cookies. However, you could offer a choice — would you like chicken fajitas or spaghetti?
Involving your child in daily family decision-making helps your little one develop a sense of agency. It teaches them to assertively ask for what they want instead of feeling shamed for having a different opinion or pitching a fit after letting repressed emotions reach a boiling point.
Letting your children have a say also teaches them natural consequences for their behavior. They can hardly whine “I’m bored” when they selected the game for everyone to play on family night. You’ll have fewer tantrums and tears while helping your children grow up into secure adults confident in their ability to make decisions.
4. Support Their Friendships
You probably like some of your child’s friends more than others. However, try not to let your preferences show.
Friendships are enormously important to little ones. Unless spending time with a particular person presents a health or safety risk to your child — such as if their parents keep unsecured guns in their house — you should support their bond. Even in those extreme cases, you can work out a compromise like meeting for play dates at the park? It could do both children a world of good.
That doesn’t mean failing to take precautions. It’s always a good idea to ask questions of your child’s friends’ parents, especially before a sleepover. For example, you can inquire how they monitor what the kids do on the internet and who resides in the home.
5. Prioritize Spending Time With Them
You work hard to support your family. However, what your little one needs more than presents is your presence.
Carve out time to spend with your family as often as possible. Enact special hours — almost like a date night — where you sit and share a meal. Take a walk together afterward to improve your digestion and further enhance the conversation. Sometimes, it’s easier to discuss the tough issues while you’re kicking fallen leaves around the sidewalk than when you’re face to face across the dinner table.
If you can afford it, take a vacation with your loved ones each year. If doing so simply isn’t in the budget, do things like build blanket forts in your living room when you get an afternoon off. Your economic situation may demand working a lot of hours to survive. However, you’ll never get back your little one’s early years.
5 Ways to Enhance Your Relationship With Your Children
Healthy families require a bit of work and time. Try these five methods to enhance your relationship with your children.
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