Managing healthy relationships with children can be difficult. When you’re the authority figure, sometimes it’s difficult to see the world from your child’s perspective. To add to the struggle, your kids are growing up in a world far different from your own childhood. This only compounds the strain on parent/child relationships.
So, what’s the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with children? Here are 5 quick and easy habits you can build into your day to develop a rock-solid relationship.
10 Minutes of 1:1 Time
Find just 10 minutes each day (per kid) and give them your undivided attention. It won’t take long for you to see the impact of this very small time investment. Your kids will behave better, and they will contribute more when they feel a consistent sense of significance and belonging.
This quality time will have a drastic impact on kids of all ages. Young kids love playing pretend. Tea parties and superhero adventures are often successful. One of my most popular shop items is a 7 Day Explorer Activity Kit because parents find the adventure prompts helpful for this quality one-on-one time.
Sometimes older kids will resist hanging out with parents because it’s not “cool.” But find activities they truly enjoy and be persistent. Baking, playing video games, and practicing sports are often popular with older kids. Eventually, you’ll find something that works. Kids will begin to look forward to this time with you, and they will start to plan their activities in advance.
If you have time to incorporate one new habit in your day, choose this one. It’s highly impactful, and you’ll see the benefits in a matter of weeks or even days.
Eat One Meal Together
Spend at least one meal together each day to strengthen your family bond. You’ll find other benefits, too, such as a boost in grades, more open conversations, quicker language development, and improved mental health. There’s plenty of science to back up these amazing benefits of sitting down to dine together.
Ask 3 Specific Questions About Their Day
Do you ask, “How was your day?” and rarely get a meaningful answer? This question is too vague. Try more specific questions like “Did anything funny happen today?” or “What was the best part of your lunch today?”
These specific questions are more likely to get your kids talking. You’ll hear details about their day, namely the details that they feel are important. It will help you connect with your kids, strengthen your bond, and give you a little glimpse into their lives.
If you need a little inspiration on what questions to ask, scholastic offers a nice list of kid conversation starters.
The value of affection is often underestimated by parents. A quick hug or word of encouragement can go a long way. I encourage my readers to make sure there’s a mix of physical affection and words of affirmation sprinkled in throughout the day.
Positive affirmations are imperative for healthy child development as well as parent/child relationship building. Make a habit of sharing your feelings with your child. My favorites include “You make me happy” and “You should be proud of yourself!” My oldest child loves to hear, “You have great ideas.” If you’re struggling to come up with positive phrases, I have a free printable available here!
Hugs and kisses may be shunned, especially as kids get older. But you can find a special way to physically connect without hugs and kisses. An arm squeeze or fist bump definitely counts. If you’re not sure how to connect with your kid, just ask! It’s as easy as saying, “Is there a way I can show you I care when you’re not feeling like a hug?” You never know; maybe they’ll want a secret handshake or quick elbow bump.
Engage before Disconnecting
One of my favorite parenting tricks is to engage before disconnecting. It’s a great way to avoid meltdowns and get your kids to comply with your directions. It’s a simple strategy: 5 to 10 minutes before you need your child to switch activities, engage in the activity with them.
So, if your child is playing with dolls, but you need to get ready for bed in 10 minutes, simply ask to join with the understanding that in 10 minutes, you both have to clean up and move on. Pro Tip: It’s best to set a timer and let the clock be the bad guy at the end of playtime.
Another example: if your little one is playing a video game and you need to leave for a doctor’s appointment in 10 minutes, ask to join for a round of Mario Kart. Make sure it’s clear that after the race, you both have to put your shoes on and go.
Your child is far more likely to immediately comply with your request if you use this strategy. More significantly, you send the message that their interests are important to you. And they probably realize that you enjoy the same fun activities that they do. It’s a great way to establish a lasting bond!
Solidifying your relationship with your child only takes minutes per day. Using these 5 Daily habits, you can get to know your kids and develop a life-long bond.