Effective parenting is important for many reasons. Of course we want to have happy children, children that do well, and want to build strong relationships with them. At the same time, the more effective our parenting, the less stress we have raising children. There are many tips on effective parenting, and lots of books on this topic, too. In fact, Meg Meeker’s, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, The Five Love Languages for Children, by Gary Chapman & Ross Campbell and Effective Parenting in a Defective World by Chip Ingram are all great books on this very topic. Today’s tip focuses on one single sector of the many areas of effective parenting; building a bond with your child.
If you want to have a child that respects you, listens to you, and takes on your values, you must have a bond with them. There are several things that you can do to build a better and stronger bond with your children. Here are 6 tips:
1. Be present with your Child
So often when we are with our children, we are doing many other things. From laundry and cleaning, to social media and work, we are giving our children quantity time, but sometimes forget about the quality time that is needed.
The Fix: Give dedicated, present, quality time with your child. Even if the time frame isn’t long in duration, the fact that they are your whole world for 20 minutes means so much more than 2 hours of time where you fail to acknowledge them much. Think quality versus quantity.
2. Provide an Environment of Love and Forgiveness
In a rush-rush world, some of us are guilty of creating an environment of fear instead of love and forgiveness. By instilling fear it appears on the surface that if the child knows not to do something, they better not, or else. So, the hope is they just won’t act out. But children will make mistakes. It is their job to try new things and not always be right or successful.
The Fix: Allow children to make mistakes. Give them the security to try new things. This will open their mind to new experiences, which will matter later in life. And even when they make a big mistake where consequences are deserved, be sure they know you still love them and you forgive them.
3. Eat Dinner Together
In many homes, dinner together has faded out. Children have a lot of homework or are on social media and hanging out with friends, and parents are often crazy busy with work. The new dinner is often grabbing something on the go, or eating separately, finishing up our daily “to-do” list. It’s not easy to find time that works for an entire family’s schedule to sit down and eat dinner together.
The Fix: Make time, find time. Eating together is so important. You will learn so much about your child’s day, both good and bad. It’s okay that The Jones’s eat dinner at 5:30 p.m. every night, with a four course meal. That is their life; don’t compare your life to theirs. If dinner at your house is 8:45 p.m. and it’s Sloppy Joes, that’s okay. You were all there at the table together. The point is to build the bond, not be the Jones’.
4. Don’t make it all about you
As parents, in many of the situations our children face, we have been there before. So it makes sense from our point of view that when they talk, we chime in with “I know how you feel. I went through that before and here is how you need to handle this.” The truth is they don’t always care about how you handled the situation. This is the first time they are going through this issue and it is major for them.
The Fix: Listen. Then, listen. Finally, listen. After you listen, ask if they want you to help them come up with solutions. If they do, start asking questions to guide them to come up with their own answers. Especially with adolescents; they like being right and coming up with answers. Acknowledge how tough this must be for them. If they want to know if you went through something, share the experience if appropriate. But take this time to take interest in what they are going through.
5. Provide Physical Touch
A great book to read as a parent is the 5 Love Languages for Children. Discover your child’s love language and speak to them in this language. We sometimes miss opportunities to hug our child, kiss their cheeks, and rub their back at night when they are drifting off to sleep.
The Fix: Hug your child all the time. Kiss their cheeks until they no longer let you and even though you are sleepy, if the little one is lying next to you, rub their back. If you have a teenager who tries to get away from you all the time, give them a high five when you can. You have the ability to show so much love to a child through touch. You make them feel safe and you build a bond.
6. Pray with your child
Praying with your child is so powerful. Even if sometimes you question your own belief or you feel your prayers have not always been answered, it is important to pray with your child anyway. Prayer instills a conscious and it brings hope. There will be days when you are away or busy and they are having a tough day. They will then think of you and turn to prayer to cope and they will soon have hope that things will get better.
The Fix: Take time each night, start with once a week if you are just beginning, to sit for a short time with your child and pray. You can start first by saying one thing you are grateful for that God has given you this day and one thing you are asking for from Him. Then encourage your child to do the same. This will also give you insights into some things that are on their mind, as well as what they appreciate in life.
This Week’s Challenge: Implement one tip off this list that you don’t always do. Come up with one additional way to build a better bond with your child.