You love your child. You tell him or her all the time. But, it’s also important to translate those words into action. That is what builds a strong relationship between parent and child. It’s about love in action, devoting thoughtful attention to the connection between you, taking the time to see things from his or her point of view, and keeping the love you feel in the front of your mind, even when your child is infuriating.
It isn’t easy to do all of these things 100 percent of the time, but making the effort will keep you present in that relationship and that generally gives you more energy and makes you feel alive. It also makes your child flourish and the relationship you share deepens. That means you won’t find yourself growing apart as your child ages and looking back wondering why you weren’t able to develop the close bond that you wanted.
The following tips should help you to spend focused time each day devoting positive energy to your child.
Make Time Together a Priority
People like to argue that quality is more important than quantity, but that isn’t the way that relationships necessarily work because there isn’t a level of infrequent quality that translates into closeness. For instance, when you work all the time, you have to make time for the important people in your life. If you have one night a week set aside for your partner, does that immediately translate into soul-baring? No. There needs to be both quality and quantity.
To develop a relationship with your child, you have to make the time. Otherwise, he or she will spend all their time developing bonds with teachers and friends, but the link between the two of you will fail to grow.
Put in the Work
You know that you don’t have a single meaningful relationship in your life that did not take some work on your part. A bond that survives rough patches is the product of effort. When it comes to your child, you have a biological advantage because humans are programmed to love our infants. Science tells us the make-up of our children’s faces triggers a specific part of the brain to activate in a way that adult faces do not. Further, babies give our bodies a surge of oxytocin, a feel-good chemical. Nature ensures we love our offspring and that makes the work a little easier.
As children grow up, parents have to build upon the bond that starts in infancy. Otherwise, is severed by the multiple responsibilities that overshadow it. Keeping that connection strong is something you have to put effort into daily.
Pile on the Encouragement
There are parents prone to criticizing their children or yelling at them to motivate changes and growth, but that isn’t a method that works to strengthen a healthy relationship. If you had a garden and your vegetables were failing to thrive, you would protect them from scavengers, adjust the water amount, and give them fertilizer. You would nurture them. Your child appreciates the same approach as they grow and blossom.
As people, we adjust the way we view ourselves a little bit every day, but the largest changes (and indeed the ones that last long-term) are the ones that happen in childhood. Your child needs to be encouraged in order to see themselves as someone who is valuable and capable of great things. When you devote all your energy to criticism, it’s hard for kids to love themselves, and how are you supposed to love someone else if you can’t love yourself? Build up your child’s self-importance and it will also build up your connection.
Mark Randall is a freelance writer and father of twin girls. He knows how hard it is to develop a lasting, strong relationship with your children in our busy modern age. He is also a pro in writing health blog that focuses on addiction, recovery and treatment including opiate abuse treatment.