Habits That Will Strengthen Your Parent-Child Bond
Like any relationship, the bond between a parent and child can be made stronger with some habits that can be easily incorporated into your everyday routines.
1. Eating Together
Eating dinner together is important for kids' health and development in many surprising ways.
An impressive body of research has shown a link between regular meals with kids and an increased likelihood of positive developmental benefits such as better health and eating habits; strong mental, emotional, and social skills; improved behavior; and better academic performance.
Even if you can't find time to have dinner together every night, schedule family meals whenever you can, as much as you can. If your weeknights are packed with late hours at the office or extracurricular activities, you can still find solutions, such as having breakfast or snacks together. The key is to make family meals fun, talk about the day, and stay connected with your kids.
2. Talking About Your Day
Like dinnertime, bedtime is a great opportunity to catch up with your kids about the day. You can ask them questions that will prompt them to answer in detail, like "What was the best part of your day today?" or "What was the funniest thing that happened today?"
Then be sure to talk about your day and share details like what you were most proud of achieving that day or what problem you may have and how you plan to solve it. By sharing something about yourself, you are showing your child that you value her as a person and feel close to her to confide in her, and you strengthen your bond and show her that she is important to you.
3. Playing Together
One of the best ways to bond with your kids is by having fun together. Go outside and ride bikes together or kick around a football. Or grab a fun family board game (make it an educational one if you want to find something that'll challenge them cognitively) and encourage them to work on great social skills and good manners, like learning how to be a gracious winner or loser, while you have fun.
The activity doesn't matter as much as the fact that you're doing something fun together. You can make fun crafts or cook or bake some treats together, or even watch and then "review" a great kids' movie. Do something that you both enjoy and connect while you're doing it, just as you would with your spouse or a good friend.
Hugging and cuddling are great ways to strengthen the parent-child bond.
Cuddling and hugging is not only a wonderful way to connect with your child and strengthen your parent-child bond, but research suggests that it may even reduce your odds of getting sick. So, let your child know how much you love her with lots of hugs throughout the day, and she'll grow up hugging you right back!
5. Being Respectful--and Expecting the Same
Kids can sometimes be exasperating and can certainly make mistakes. But parents should keep in mind that treating kids with respect is as important as disciplining kids. Even if your child has done something that requires you to discipline him, you can speak to him in a calm and loving manner. Yelling or using corporal punishment have been shown to not only be less effective, but they can harm the quality of your relationship with your child.
Also remind kids to say "Thank you" and "Please" and do the same with your kids. Good manners should not be something that you only use outside the home--treating each other with respect and courtesy will not only bring you closer together but will make your home a more pleasant place to live.
6. Letting the Kids Help
Kids naturally love to be helpful, and when you give them chores and responsibilities, you boost their self-confidence and make them feel valued. Tell them how great a job they're doing, and how much you appreciate their help. Not only will it bring you closer together, but it'll help your kids grow into confident and kind people who love helping others.
7. Showing Your Child Love Daily
Doing little things every day to show your child how much you love him, like writing a note and tucking it into his lunchbox or planning fun things to do on the weekends or giving him your full attention when you're talking, can make a big difference in the quality of your relationship with your child. Show your child every day how much he means to you and you'll be doing something to strengthen the bond between you and your child and make it lasting and unshakable.
8. Turn off technology when you interact.
Your child will remember for the rest of her life that she was important enough to her parents that they turned off their phone to listen to her. Even turning off music in the car can be a powerful invitation to connect, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids (and adults) are more likely to open up and share.
9. Welcome emotion.
Sure, it's inconvenient. But your child needs to express his emotions or they'll drive his behavior. Besides, this is an opportunity to help your child heal those upsets, which will bring you closer. So, summon up your compassion, don't let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger. Remember that you're the one he trusts enough to cry with and breathe your way through it. Just acknowledge all those feelings and offer understanding of the pain. Afterward, he'll feel more relaxed, cooperate, and closer to you. (Yes, this is really hard. Regulating our own emotions in the face of a child's upset is one of the hardest parts of parenting. But that doesn't mean we're excused from trying.)
10. Show up.
Most of us go through life half-present. But your child has only about 900 weeks of childhood with you before he leaves your home. He'll be gone before you know it. Try this as a practice: When you're interacting with your child, show up 100 percent. Just be right here, right now, and let everything else go. You won't be able pull this off all the time. But if you make it a habit several times a day, you'll find yourself shifting into presence more and more often, because you'll find it creates those moments with your child that make your heart melt.