Three fun and time-honored ways to strengthen the parent – child bond.
Raising children is undoubtedly terribly hard work, oft-times mind-numbing and thankless. But even though modern-day parenting pushes parents to their limits, it remains the most joyous experience available to adults. Parenting isn’t something we do, but rather who we are. And it’s within the space afforded by the parent – child bond that the child develops and learns how to love, interact, play, and resolve conflict. Research indicates that the single most important predictor of a child’s emotional and psychological well-being is the closeness of the parent – child relationship.
However, children’s needs are so overwhelming and the conundrum of balancing it out with every other component of one’s life so intense, that it’s easy to lose sight of the need to give this bond your regular TLC (tender loving care). In the absence of it, your relationship with your child can suffer, and you might end up with a tween (10-12 year olds) or teen who no longer wants to talk to you or share aspects of their life with you.
While every parent-child bond is unique and there isn’t one method that works for everyone, there are, however, certain time-honoured ways to strengthen your bond with your child and reclaim the joy.
- Just play together
Whether the kid is 4 or 14, the simplest and one of the most powerful ways to strengthen your bond with your child is to play. Play not only comes naturally to them, but also offers them a safe space to learn critical life skills and share their feelings.
With younger kids, tossing a ball, peek-a-boo, or creating crafts can be great ways to spend time together. Board games, sports, and online games can be made use of with tweens and teens. Remember to play by your kid’s rules – a game of their choice and in the manner they want to play it in. By spending time doing what they enjoy, you would not only share in their joy of that activity, but also show them that you trust and respect their choices.
- Find a common activity to share together
Every child is different and it’s important you spend time getting to know this tiny human you love so dearly – what delights them, their interests, preferences, and inclinations. Once you do, find an area of shared interest around which you and your child can do different activities and spend enjoyable time together.
If your child loves dinosaurs and cannot get enough of dino digs, visit a Natural History museum and watch or read dino stories and facts together. If your child loves dancing, and while you may have two feet, ask them to teach it to you. In addition to being there at their practices and dance performances, you could watch dance shows together, practice dance steps together, and even put up performances for the rest of the family.
- Show them you love them – set aside ‘date-time’
While your children likely know that you love them, and perhaps you make it a habit to say it out loud to them, but often do you show your love to them? As the kid grows older, snuggles, hugs, and kisses regrettably often fade or reduce considerably, frequently at the behest of the independence-craving tween and teen. A great way to reconnect can be to bring back the hugs and kisses and intersperse them with pats on the back and playful mock-wrestling.
In case of tweens and teens, another fantastic way to strengthen your relationship, and especially when you have more than one child, is to set aside separate ‘date time’ with each child. Take them out for their favourite meal and check-in with what they have going on in their lives and be sure to listen with an open mind. Share aspects of your own life, take their advice; it would only model to them the act of letting in family members into their lives, but also show them that you care about their opinions.