There are many complex and detailed approaches to parenting that can overwhelm and intimidate parents. However, there are many very simple and easy ways to build communication, bonds, understanding and respect as well. Here are five of my favorites.
Eye level eye contact
Imagine everything in your world being taller, bigger and higher than you. Now imagine having the people who mean the most to you squat down and get on your level, making you feel important. The impact of being on your child’s eye level is monumental for communication and trust. Make this a habit, for the positive interactions more than the ones where you are teaching a lesson or enforcing a rule.
Unless you have one child, (about twenty percent of families in the US), it is easy to neglect to set aside time with only one child at a time. Giving yourself a schedule for each child during the week is crucial to learning about the likes, dislikes, hopes, dreams, frustrations, etc. of your children. It can be 15 minutes every night in their room, an hour every Saturday morning, whatever works for you and your family. The most important thing is that you and your child count on that time, and make it a priority.
There is a growing trend wherein parents are more and more overbearing. Kids need opportunities to make mistakes, mess up, break rules, not make teams, fail tests, etc. to learn what responsibility is. They also need the freedom to grow from those experiences, as a result of the consequences that you provide. Kids cannot be bailed out of every negative experience, or they will never learn to take care of themselves. Give your kids responsibility, start small if necessary. Sit back sometimes, and let them problem solve without stepping in. You will likely be surprised at their capabilities.
Such a simple gesture, not given with enough frequency. Every kid reaches a point where they no longer want to be hugged in public, for embarrassment purposes. However, there are plenty of opportunities to make this a habit when you are home, out of peers’ views. And, believe it or not, they still need and want them. If your kids are still young, make it a habit now so they may give you longer before they say, “Come on, Mom or Dad! Do you have to do that?” Hugs make kids feel safe, cared for, understood and respected. Give them freely, with a reason like “Thanks for being my kid!”, rather than just when they go to bed or leave for school.
Kids are full of wonder, hope and expectation. Sometimes they have seemingly silly ideas, like building a tree house in the back yard or planning their career as an astronaut. However, they develop their sense of self with every dream and pursuit of that goal. Every failed attempt leads them closer to their destiny. Guard against talking them out of ideas, or steering them in another direction. Find joy in their passion and encourage their endeavors.
Here’s to healthy, happy relationships with your children!