Parenting is not a role we play, it is a relationship process.  If there are any complex relationships in this world, this is one of them. One should have one with their child because there is no universal advice that applies to all circumstances. No matter how many kids you have, relationships with them will differ, therefore you did well to read that, kid.

A person from the 1990s generation would contend that in terms of their relationships with their parents, they were better children than what they have with their offspring. What do you think of that, then? Despite how challenging it may be, this is something you cannot avoid, and when it comes to parenting, you must always be honest because the child will test you from every angle. The relationship between parents and children fosters the child’s physical, emotional, and social growth. Every child and parent can cherish and grow this special bond. The basis for the child’s personality, choices in life, and general behavior is laid by this interaction.

The more we can get our heads and hearts around that idea, the more we can decide how we want to treat our children as we raise them. We must first think about what long-range goals we have for them, rather than just what works for the moment. Hitting them, for example, might stop a behavior at a specific moment, but does not teach self-control or self-discipline, which are attributes everyone wants to instill in their children.

It is important to separate your children from their behavior and make sure you give those expressions of love to the child while not condoning misbehavior. Don’t wait until they’ve done something that pleases you to hug them and say, “I love you.” Hug them because they are who they are. That is what is meant by unconditional love—to love someone because they exist, not because they perform in a certain way. I heard one person say that when we are loved with conditions, we become human doings, rather than human beings.

When we discipline kids, we frequently use guilt and shame instead of enforcing rules. Our statements tend to provoke conflict rather than promote collaboration. When children are simply acting their age, some parents insult and chastise them. The paradox is that the more we criticize people, the more annoying personality traits we end up developing in them. It is wise to consider whether we would say to someone else’s children what we are about to say to our own. And to question ourselves, “How many friends would I have left if I spoke to them the way I speak to my kids?” The answer to that query may serve as a wake-up call on how we interact with our kids.

What is discipline? The root word is disciple, which means to teach or to train, is an educative model rather than a punitive one. Teaching and training in a respectful manner maintains the relationship with the child while setting limits and guarding self-esteem. Role models—that is what we should be to our children. We can’t expect them to be better than we are. We must model respect and then insist upon it from them. Notice I didn’t say demand respect. I don’t buy into the old adage that some of us were raised with that said, “Don’t do what I do, do what I say.” Neither do I believe that children should be allowed to run wild and rule the family. Where is the balance? The balance is in adults who behave like adults and model respect, set clear limits, and give lots of love.

Now for something practical: Jane Nelsen in her book Positive Discipline talks about the phrase as soon as. A nonthreatening motivator, this phrase is particularly effective when you want your child to do something she doesn’t want to do. “As soon as you pick up your toys, we can read a story.” “As soon as you are dressed we can go to the park.” “As soon as your room is clean we can go to the mall.” It is “said in a tone of voice that indicates you will withdraw from the situation until the requirements are met. You should then become unconcerned and let the child experience the consequences of his or her choice. If you do not become unconcerned, it will become a power contest no matter what words you use,” says Nelsen.

When used in a similar context can have the same effect: “When all the homework is done, then you can watch your hour of TV.” Even young children who have inaccurate perceptions of time can understand the sequence of “as soon as” or “when . . ., then . . .” This is a way to turn a potential power struggle into a cooperative effort.

When giving a directive to your child, sound like you mean it. Don’t ask them to please do something. Make a clear statement, say, “Clean up the toys. I want you to come inside for dinner now.”

Benefits Of Having A Strong Relationship With Your Child

The benefits of a positive relationship on child development are numerous. They contribute to a child’s future success in the following ways.

SECURE ATTACHMENT

A positive parent-child relationship in early childhood fosters a secure attachment in the child. Psychologists have found that secure attachment is the best type of attachment. Children with a securely attached relationship with their parents are more resilient.

They persevere when facing challenges. They have fewer behavioral problems, higher self-esteem, better academic performance, and other positive outcomes.  Relationships between parents and children also affect how one forms future relationships in adulthood. Securely attached people have positive internal working models allowing them to develop competent social skills.

SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL REGULATION

Parent-child interactions in the early years set the groundwork for a child’s social development.

Young children learn to self-regulate by watching and mimicking their parents. A close relationship with the parents facilitates the emotional development of children.

MENTAL HEALTH AND WELL BEING

A healthy relationship with the child is strongly associated with their mental well-being.

Research shows that having a poor connection is a risk factor for developing depressive symptoms.

SELF-MOTIVATION

Relations with others are vital innate motivators in humans​​. A child is more intrinsically motivated to engage in an activity valued by people they feel connected to. Parents who have a strong bond with their children can greatly influence their academic interests and help them succeed.

How To Strengthen The Parent-Child Relationship

While younger children care more about how much time you can spend with them, older kids don’t translate more time into closer relationships. You don’t need to spend a lot of time connecting with your kids. Children need quality time, not just time together. But before you work on the relationship, think about your parenting goal.

Are you committed to building a strong relationship and setting it as your parenting goal? Knowing your goal will help you prioritize what you do daily. For example, is getting good grades more important than having a close relationship? Is having the trash can empty worth damaging it?

One of the best things about prioritizing your relationship is that once you have a strong connection, all your other goals will be much easier to fulfill. Once you know your goal, here are the steps you can take to strengthen your relationship.

FIRST, ATTUNE

Step one to strengthen a relationship is to show attunement. It means attuning to your children’s emotions. Emotional attunement is the best way to establish a connection with another person. When they’re happy, you share their happiness.

When they’re sad or frustrated, you share their sadness or frustration, and you show that visually through your body language, facial expression, and words. For example, if you have a conflict with your kid and they’re angry, without sounding angry, you can say with a frown, “You look really upset. It is so unfair, isn’t it?”

This attunement can usually calm a child immediately, and by doing that, you strengthen and repair the relationship quickly, even during a fight.

THEN, REPAIR

Fix that hole in your relationship bottle! If you have conflicts with your child on almost anything, that means you don’t really have a discipline problem… you have a relationship problem. For some parents, to repair is to apologize if they feel that they might be wrong in a recent fight.

You don’t have to take on everything. Point out the part you could have done differently. If your child’s feelings were hurt, apologize. Admitting a mistake will not undermine your authority. You show that you’re big enough to take responsibility for a mistake. That will earn you respect.

If you haven’t had a recent fight, follow these steps.

  1. Start with the biggest conflict or disagreement in your relationship.
  2. Evaluate whether being right in it is that important to you.
  3. Imagine 20 years from now, will you care more about winning this fight or your relationship with your child?
  4. Talk to your child about your decision in #3.
  5. Invite your child to discuss alternative solutions together, collaboratively. Do it together. A relationship takes two.
  6. Go down your list of conflicts and repeat #1-5.

FINALLY, QUALITY

Here are some essential qualities psychologists have found to benefit your relationship with your child.

Practice Responsive, Warm Parenting

A responsive parenting style, such as authoritative parenting, can help your child develop a secure attachment6.

Being responsive means meeting your child’s needs and showing parental warmth.

For instance, attune to your child’s emotional responses. Acknowledge your child’s feelings when they are in distress or emotionally dysregulated. Use emotional coaching rather than dismissing to teach kids about self-regulation.

Spend Quality Time Together

Spending quality time with your child doesn’t mean doing more educational activities. It means mindfully attending to your child’s needs. It means being present. Even resolving conflicts can become quality time if done right. When there are conflicts, many parents bulldoze over the problem, skip over it, or try to sweep it under the rug so they can move on to “happily spend quality time together.”

But quality doesn’t mean that only positive emotions are involved. Helping your child develop emotional regulation skills during tantrums, teaching them patiently how to disagree respectfully, or encouraging problem-solving instead of just saying no, are all quality times well spent.

Use Positive Discipline

Using punishment is the most common way to damage your relationship with your kid. Discipline means to teach, not to punish. You don’t need to punish to teach. Using positive parenting to discipline can strengthen your bond​.  Positive discipline is about teaching, guiding, and correcting your child in a kind and firm way.

Children as young as 1-year-olds can benefit from using nurturing and positive discipline. Being positive is not being permissive. Permissive parents don’t set boundaries or enforce rules. Authoritative parents, on the other hand, are positive and still enforce reasonable rules.

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