Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Are you a struggling parent who feels that the gap between you and your child is getting larger and larger? Do you recently feel the need to get back the emotional connection with your child? Are struggling in building a stronger relationship with your young one or teenager?
Here are some of my ideas on how you can build stronger relationship with a child or teenager.
Pray with your child. Coming from a Christian family, I cannot overemphasize the power of prayer in building strong family ties. Just as most Christian families say, "Keep God as the center of your relationship."
Give genuine positive affirmations. Help the child build his self-esteem as you point out strengths.
Write him or her a love letter. This does magic. Believe me. I've done it. I first did this when my son was in his first grade. I slipped a short note inside his lunch bag with these words, "Dear Son, I hope you'll have a beautiful day. Always remember that Mama loves you." I was thinking he'd be so happy to read words of endearment when he opens his bag during lunch time. And he did! He was even boasting the letter among his friends.
Have routine movie nights. One of my children's favorite is having movie nights together. Every time we'd do this, I feel how they really appreciate laughing with us, their parents, and exchanging opinions afterwards.
Engage in meaningful conversations. Having healthy and meaningful conversations with your child or teenager can help him build self-awareness, self-esteem, empathy for others, and coping skills.
Give him or her a treat once in a while. If you're a parent who controls your child's consumption of junk food and other sweets, try to give him or her a treat occasionally and watch how your child giggles with excitement and appreciation.
Never ignore your child when he's talking. A common mistake among busy and overworked parents is ignoring their children when they talk or ask questions. Doing so makes the child feel belittled. And it's not an ideal strategy in building his self-confidence.
Read books together. It is a common culture here in the United States and in most western cultures to read books to their young. However, this may not be the case in other parts of the world. So if you're reading this article and want to create emotional connection with your child, consistently read him a book (like during bedtime), and be fascinated how your child would regularly long for reading times with you.
Visit the park together. Bonding moments need not be expensive. A simple visit to the park together may mean so much for your children. You're not only spending time with them but you're also giving them a chance to make valuable social connections with others. A park is a wonderful place to make new friends for you and your kids.
Encourage the child to memorize Bible verses. As Christian parents, we always emphasize the importance of believing in God and reading the Bible. There's so many moral goodness you can find within the Bible. If your child is still too young to comprehend the regular Bible, try buying a kids devotional or Bible book.
Take a nature walk. Visit a forest preserve, go for a hiking, set a camping weekend, or anything you could imagine where you and your kids can just enjoy and relax with nature. Teach your children to appreciate moments without any gadget.
Visit nearby or even out of town water parks. Who doesn't enjoy water parks? Both young and old enjoy dipping into the pool. If you're conscious about getting too much exposure with the harmful UV rays, try looking for indoor water parks near you that you can visit with your family.
Sing songs with him or her. From singing simple nursery rhymes together to having fun in the karaoke, all these can create memorable moments for your children.
Cook easy meals together (or bake). If you're a working mom or dad, cooking before or after work can already be a daunting task especially if you have kids to tend. But scheduling a time to cook or bake together during the weekend, for an instance, when we have more free time is a great idea.
Visit museums. Bring your child to a museum and not only create memorable moments together but also encourage him to be curious and imaginative. Learning doesn't always have to be boring.
Buy your child a pet. Unless you child is allergic to an animal, getting him a pet could help develop his empathy for others and sense of responsibility.
Engage in a pretend play with the child. Allowing the child to express his childish ways and pretending to be a child yourself means so much fun for your little one. I've seen my little one's face gleam in awe every time I'd pretend to be someone at his age.
Explain to the child why such discipline (e.g. timeout) is being imposed. Positive discipline is a crucial part of parenting. We must be careful not do it harshly because it could create deep emotional wounds to our children. Another important concept of positive parenting is explaining to a child why he has been disciplined and allowing him to express his emotions. This will help him better understand and follow the rules.
Ask about how the child's day has been. Asking open-ended questions allows you to explore your child's daily experiences especially during those time when you couldn't be with him. This is important because we cannot always keep our children with us. They should also learn to interact with others, and there could be times when the outside world could be harsh. In addition, asking open-ended questions such as "How's your playdate?" or "How's your show and tell?" provides an opportunity for the child to share new discoveries or achievements.
Hugs (and/or kisses) makes them feel loved. Gestures of love are just as essential as positive affirmations in making our children feel loved and cared for. This is particularly true when the child undergoes some challenges in life. These challenges that might be small for you but that's not the same in the eyes of your child. Showing loving gestures makes a child feel he has someone there for him when it's gloomy.
Eat meals together. Mealtimes are great opportunities to communicate with each other. Be careful not to discuss negative matters during meal times. It should be a time when you can happily cultivate your relationship with your loved ones.
Exercise together. Teaching your child to become active is necessary to keep him in good shape and healthy. Doing exercise together is a better way to do it if you're a parent.
Do some artwork. Explore your child's creative side as you do some artworks together. Discover his talents.
Never shout at the child. Children learn most from their parents. If you shout at them or rage, you're setting bad examples to your child. I know several people who kept grudges toward their parents who used to shout at them when they were little.
Never blame the child. Just as the old adage says, "To err is human." If you must, learn to constructively criticize him-- not destructively. Be patient to explain how things should be done-- even if it takes a hundred times before your child understands. Avoid name calling or labelling the child. Allow him to make mistakes and encourage him to learn from it. That's what you call love.
Go to church together. Building your child's moral character is one of your primary responsibilities as a father or mother. As found in Proverbs 22:6 (KJV) "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." Going to church together must be a regular activity for your family. Strengthening your child's spiritual health may also help him become resilient during adulthood, the period when he'd face more mature challenges in life.
Offer healthier food and explain to him or her why you're doing it. My mother-in-law is one of the healthiest person I've ever met. She never drinks coffee, soda, alcoholic beverages, and many other unhealthy drinks. She basically refrains herself and her children from eating anything unnatural or inorganic. And that's one of the things I'm really grateful for. She was able to raise my husband as someone who pays attention to good eating habits. She told them, "If you love your children, give them good and healthy food."
Plant trees (or do gardening) together. Teach your children to love and take care Mother Nature. Protect the Earth and it will protect you. Gardening together can be a messy, yet fun activity especially if you'll do it with your little ones.
Visit the beach. Kids love the water, the waves, the sand, the sea shells, the fishes--just everything about the beach! Go ahead and have fun with them. Don't miss the chance of witnessing your child's laughter and giggles. They won't stay young forever.
Be verbally expressive. Show your affection by saying 'I Love You', 'I Miss You', 'Take Care', 'I'm Thinking Of You', etc.
Encourage him to do his or her best in everything he does. You're child looks up to you for support and recognition. Build up his motivation by regularly giving words of encouragement.
Offer choices and avoid being too authoritarian. Long gone are the days when parents have to be rigidly strict to make their kids obey them. Offering choices builds your child's autonomy-- something he really needs as he grows up.
Offer rewards for a job well done. Giving rewards is great way to acknowledge your child's effort. But make sure not to overdo it or else your child might only do his best when he knows you've got something to give him.
Visit a zoo. The zoo is a favorite learning destination for families now and then.
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