Every parent wishes for that dream relationship with their child that is based on the cornerstones of trust, friendship and respect. Great relationships, however, take work! Especially parenting since during the years that our children need our attention are typically the years that are we are juggling numerous other commitments including building a career. It isn’t therefore just enough to love our children; it is important that we build a connection with them that is strong enough to tackle all the ups and downs that life brings in its wake. So in between putting dinner on the table, keeping the home clean and trying to build a career, you need to remember to shower positive attention on your children, under which both the child and your relationship can thrive. Besides being fully present in your interactions with the child, here are some of the other things that you can consciously do to build the foundation of a great relationship:
The needs of a little baby are not just restricted to being fed and changed .The parent child connection has its genesis in this phase. Theorists point that the bond that you build with the child now is likely to last through out. Done right, it is at this time that the baby learns that the parents can be trusted for their physical as well as emotional needs. All you have to do is work on this bond that you form early and take it from strength to strength.
Spend time with the child
Like any other relationship, a parent child relationship needs time. You cannot walk up to the child when you are done with all your other commitments and hope that the child will open up to you automatically, now that you have time. Strong relationships need to be nurtured and time is of essence. While we speak of the concept of quality time when it comes to a child, even the quantity of time spent can start to affect its quality.
Build a relationship of trust
Right from the time you pick up a crying infant and whisper sweet nothings into her ear, you start to build a relationship of trust. As the child grows, this needs to be built stronger through your actions. So whether it is picking them up on time or following through a promise, all of it tells the child that he can depend on you. The element of trust is also seeded when we show them through our actions that we believe that the child has a lot of potential for positive change, even if he has done something wrong. Trust also manifests itself when we hang on to the relationship despite things not going quite right. All this is not to say that you need to blindly believe everything your child tells you. However overall you need to see them as people who are capable of a lot of good.
Treat them respectfully
In our persona as a parent, while we expect that we be treated with respect, we forget that children deserve our respect too. In fact our respecting them as individuals, will in turn lead to increased self respect for themselves as also lay a strong foundation for them treating others with empathy and respect. In short, the way we treat them can go a long way in determining how they treat themselves or allow themselves to be treated by others! Dumbing them down, not allowing them to speak their mind or worse still ridiculing them for their ideas can set into motion a whole lot of patterns in their adult life that emanate from the fact that their own self esteem is low.
Sure enough you have a whole lot of emails to answer or have guests coming home for dinner. So while the child prattles on, you continue to do your work, taking pride in your multitasking abilities. Except the message that it passes on to the child is that you aren’t really interested. It is possible that over a period of time the child stops communicating. Also the fact that you miss a lot of what the child is trying to tell you and fail to take advantage of a whole lot of coachable moments does not make a strong case for multitasking. In fact the message that needs to go to the child is that you are always available for him. This refers to not just your physical proximity but also your mental availability and children are quick to ascertain that. Not being there physically and mentally for the child when he needs to share something will mean that the child will start to look for other emotional anchors. Being available on the other hand means that you can easily pick up the signal that the child wants to share something with you.
In fact each time that you meet after being physically separated from the child, it is always a good idea to say hello and physically reconnect with the child. Keeping distractions to the minimum at this time bodes well for a strong relationship. So try to avoid having guests over when your child is heading back home from a sleepover and is most likely to share his or her experiences. Similarly answering the phone just as you have got back home from work and haven’t as much as acknowledged the child, may not be a great idea.
Let Go of your own hurts
Ever so often the relationship with the child hits a tricky note and we tend to lash out on the child or beat ourselves up for not being able to explain a point of view to the child or worse still take the child’s rebuff to heart. The fact is that neither of these responses do anything for the relationship. It is important to remember that this can simply worsen the situation. What will help is to let go, take a deep breath, and to respond calmly while appreciating the child’s point of view. Acting from a place of love rather than acting from the space of anger always tends to pass the right message to the child. So when you set limits from the place of love, odds are that the child will respect them instead of resenting them. For the same reason using physical punishment may not go very far in either correcting the behavior or cementing the relationship. To enable them to grow to their full potential, therefore, criticizing or yelling at them may not do the trick. What is required is that they feel that you are their ally and are on their side.