When it comes to determining the type of relationship you will have with your kids, you have all the power. If you want a relationship that is loving and friendly, you can have it. However, this dream relationship won’t develop without work. By putting in some effort and doing simple things with caring and consistency, you can make your harmonious family fantasy a reality.
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On Their Level
The first and easiest step in connecting with your kiddo is getting on his level physically. While it may be much comfier to watch from above as you perch on the sofa or recliner or stool, this spatial distance can hinder your connection. Slip on comfortable clothes and get down on the floor with your tot. Play with his Legos, race with Matchbox cars or put together a giant floor puzzle. While your child likely won’t verbalize his appreciation, as he isn’t yet conscious enough of his feelings to state them, you will almost certainly see his eyes glowing and receive some rewarding giggles and hugs.
By Their Side
You can’t build a relationship with your child without putting in the hours. This means resisting the urge to veg in front of the TV after a long day of work and instead spending some time with your tot. Make copious togetherness time easier to fit into your schedule by having your child help you with tasks around the house. For example, if you’re going to paint the back bedroom, lay down plenty of tarps and let her slop some paint around, too, even if you have to go over it later to undo some of her damage. These experiences show your child that you value her and will be the things that she really remembers when she looks back on her formative years.
In Their Business
As your child grows, he will likely become less and less eager for you to be a part of his personal life. While he will almost certainly encourage you to give him space and you, to a certain extent, should, don’t entirely exit your child’s life during this difficult phase. Your child needs to know that you trust him, so collecting his text messages from your cell service provider and reading them is likely a bad idea. You should strive to retain at least some idea as to what is going on in his life. Inquire about his friends, using specifics so that he can see that you care. For example, instead of saying, “How are your friends doing?” Try, “Did Elijah get a date to the prom yet?” Even though he will be too cool to show it, he will secretly dig the fact that you are (1) interested in him and (2) actually know something about what is going on in his life.
For Their Benefit
Many parents develop a misimpression that they can’t both be friendly and be authoritative. You’re child needs you to discipline her. She needs you to teach her right from wrong and reinforce these teachings with consistent rewards and consequences. Though she will almost certainly fight against this from time to time, if you discipline your child in a reasonable and effective manner, you can have your cake and eat it to; helping your child become a trustworthy and responsible individual while still maintaining a strong and lasting bond.
To accomplish this seemingly impossible hat trick, be clear when stating your rules. Post a set of rules somewhere in your house and reference them when your child breaks one. Also, explain the reasoning behind your rules. Hearing “because I said so” is beyond infuriating to a child. There is a reason you don’t want him or her to do a certain thing or you demand he or she do another; let them in on the secret so they can understand why you have these regulations in the first place.
Conclude your effective discipline system by being consistent with consequences and rewards. If you tell your children you will give them something if they do something you want them to, follow though. Likewise, let them know what the consequences will be if they do something wrong before they do it so they’re fairly warned. If they move forward with the misbehavior anyway, consequence as you said you would. Even though they will likely groan, moan and maybe even say a few things that they don’t really mean about how much they dislike you, in the end the storm clouds will pass and you will come out on the other side stronger as a family.