6 Habits to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Child
As a parent, you play a crucial role in your child’s emotional development. A secure attachment with their main caregiver can help them form happy relationships in the future. Communication is a vital aspect of this relationship, and you can foster it by introducing these six habits to your family life:
1. Encourage curiosity
Research shows that mothers are the most quizzed people in the UK, being asked on average one question every two minutes 36 seconds – more every hour than a primary school teacher, a doctor, or a nurse!
Your child’s constant questions may sometimes be overwhelming, but answering them shows that you value their thoughts. By nurturing their natural curiosity, you are giving them a chance to express themselves and develop their imagination.
2. Get your child to help with chores
Unfortunately, we can’t avoid the dull day-to-day tasks that take up so much of our time, such as cooking or doing the laundry. By getting your child involved in these jobs, you don’t need to find as much ‘extra’ time to spend together. Most children love helping (some might be more reluctant!) – it may be quicker and less stressful without their input, but you will strengthen your relationship and teach them to be more responsible. Also, ask (and take) their advice on things – by taking their suggestions seriously you will make your child feel good and gain their respect.
3. Take your child out and about with you
Running errands or walking the dog can provide valuable time for your child. Use these moments to have one-on-one conversations and build stronger connections. Never underestimate the amount of conversation you can get just sitting in a car together – older children may even be more open to discussion when they don’t feel the pressure of a sit-down, face-to-face conversation.
4. Turn off YOUR technology
This is a big one and really shows your child that you value them and want to listen/spend time with them. We are living in a society where technology is available all the time – we get frustrated with children for being glued to screens, but we can be just as guilty of constantly checking our social media and emails on our phones. Children do pick up on this and it sends the wrong message; that it is okay to use devices when you should be interacting with someone, and that your phone/tablet is more important than they are. Of course, there are times when technology is fine – like when they get home from school (or you get home from work), and just want to collapse in front of the TV. But try to have some technology-free time every day (for the whole family), to limit screen use and give your child your full attention.
5. Eat together
Family mealtimes are a great opportunity to get away from technology and to discuss and share that day’s events with one another. It can be difficult to fit this into our busy schedules – research shows that one in three children eat their evening meal in front of the TV. But as well as being a great way to encourage conversation, there is a whole host of benefits to family mealtimes – it is linked with healthier food choices, a lower risk of eating disorders and obesity, and even better school performance. Be realistic about what your family can manage; if you can’t fit daily family mealtimes around working times and after-school activities, schedule a family meal just once or twice a week instead.
6. Have fun together
Play together, laugh together, have fun together and build memories together. When you play with your child you will not only get closer but you will also get to know each other better. You can also use it as an opportunity to teach your child valuable life skills: turn taking, sharing, winning and losing respectfully can all be taught through playing games.