by Craig Roberts, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
What is your parent/child relationship made out of? Some are made out of power struggles. Others are made out of indifference and distance. The kind that you want is made out of happy connections. For that to happen, you must create happy connecting experiences with your child! You, the parent, choose this and cause it to happen. Here’s how to create a positive relationship with your child.
Choose to interact
Put a priority on interacting with your child. Put aside the electronic screens, housework, and other distractions, and dedicate time to your child.
Bring positive energy
It doesn’t matter if you are playing a game, pulling weeds, doing homework, baking cookies, driving in the car, shopping, doing dishes, or anything. Whatever you are doing, be positive. Talk about how you love your child and like doing things with him/her. Notice his/her good qualities. Make everything into a game. Make it so that it feels happy just being together. When you are smiling together, you know you’re getting things right.
Your attention is the best gift
People give attention to things that are important to them. Children get good self-esteem from seeing that they are important enough to be noticed and appreciated. When you look at your child, s/he knows s/he is important. When you smile at him/her, s/he knows s/he is a good person. When you give loving touch, s/he feels love even more deeply. When you play and laugh together, suddenly the whole world is wonderful.
Join your child’s experience
When something is important to your child, it is important to you! Focus on what they focus on. If they are interested in a bug, get interested, too. If they are learning to cut with scissors, enjoy cutting together. If they are playing cars in the dirt, get in the dirt and join in. If they just split up with their boyfriend/girlfriend, and want to watch mindless TV for a while, join the moment. If they’re stuck in cyber world, text them. You want to show your child how important s/he is to you, and the way to do it is to put importance on what is important to him/her.
For more on tips from Craig, check out Ideas on Creating Structure with Young Children.