It’s no secret that being a parent is one of the most challenging roles in the world. Parenting is hard to do well, but it’s even harder to get it wrong. Parenting doesn’t come with a manual, and there aren’t any set guidelines for the “right” or “wrong way” to be a parent. But if there’s one rule every parent should follow when it comes to raising happy and healthy kids, it is to make sure to establish a loving and healthy parent-child relationship.
People who experience strong and positive relationships with their parents are more likely to be happier, healthier, and be successful in work and love, according to new research by Dr. Paul Coleman of the University of South Australia’s (UniSA) School of Social Sciences. This important relationship contributes significantly to the holistic growth and development of a child.
So how can you create and strengthen a loving relationship with your child?
Tell your child “I love you” often
Our children may know that we love them, but it’s different when you make sure you say it every day. This is especially important on those difficult days when they misbehave or have trouble following rules. Instead of getting carried away by your anger, talk to your child calmly. Remind your little ones that you love them unconditionally, even when rules are broken.
Healthy relationships are founded on two things: trust and respect. If you make sure your child knows they are loved and cared for every day, you’ll create an atmosphere in which your little one is more likely to listen to what you say and make good choices.
Keep communication open
A strong relationship also depends on honest communication. Your child needs to know that it’s okay to come and talk to you about anything. Make sure your little one knows you’re always there to listen.
You can keep your communication with your kids open by making sure they feel comfortable talking to you when something is on their minds. Make time for your kids every day so that you can build a relationship based on trust. Be sure to let them know that what they have to say is important, no matter how simple or trivial it might seem. Acknowledge their feelings by giving verbal feedback such as, “Oh yeah? Tell me more…” when appropriate. Encourage them to share more by asking questions like, “So, what happened next?”
Play is vital for all children’s development and the growth of important life skills. Carve out time to play with your little one. If you only have a small chunk of time in the evening, make sure some of it is devoted to engaging in playtime with your child. Just enjoy your little one’s company and have fun together. Be sure to give your undivided attention. Let your child be in control of some things, such as choosing which movie to watch or which outfit to wear.
Show your love and affection
Aside from verbal affirmation, it’s important that your child feels your love during every stage of life. Babies thrive on physical contact and cuddling. Toddlers need plenty of hugs (and kisses, too) to feel loved. For older kids, showing your love through gestures is a wonderful way to show how much you care.
Make it a point to show your child how much you love them, even in little ways. Something as simple as a kiss on the cheek or warm embrace helps you connect with your child. Expressing your affection can go a long way.
Eat meals together
Sharing meals with your family provides an excellent venue for having conversations and bonding. Eating a meal together gives you a chance to share stories, talk about your day, and catch up. Turn off the television and put away electronic devices so you can spend quality time together at the table. Not only do meals provide an opportunity to bond, but they’re also a great time to teach your child about the importance of a healthy and balanced diet.
The most important relationship you can have with your child is the one that you build from infancy. Strengthen and nurture your parent-child relationship by following these tips!
For more tips and resources on parenting, please visit Children Central.