Every child is unique.
Understanding your child’s behaviors can improve your relationship.
Parenting can feel like a roller-coaster ride. You have happy moments that leave you exuding positive energy, anxious moments that make your stomach feel in knots, the memorable times that leave your heart full of gratitude, and the situations in which you acted badly and you’d like to crawl in a hole and forget. Whatever part of the ride you are on, it can seem like there is rarely time in between turns to catch your breath. The ups and downs of parenting are normal and most of the time families are able to adapt and move forward toward loving and caring relationships. If you notice that your family is constantly struggling with getting along and conflict is becoming a way of life, it may be time to seek some help. Parents who become overwhelmed may find the support of a therapist to be helpful, particularly when faced with a child facing a difficult situation or behavioral concern.
To help you determine if you may be struggling with parenting, we have provided a short questionnaire to check your symptoms. Click on the button below to take the Parenting Symptom Checker:
5 Tips to Improve Your Relationship with Your Child
Listen: A child rarely has your undivided attention so make sure to take time in your day to listen without interrupting or giving advice. Enjoy the perspective of your child and encourage them to share their thoughts and feelings about the things that happen during their day. You will often find that your child has a unique way of seeing the world that is refreshing and hilarious if you let them talk without corrections.
Put down the phone: When interacting with your child make sure you put away your phone and resist the temptation to keep “checking” for texts or alerts. It may seem like a small thing but when you put away the phone it sends a signal to your child that you value their company more than an inanimate object. It will also lead to less attention seeking behaviors when you do need to check your phone if you have made it clear to the child that they are a priority.
Praise the good stuff: One of the mantras regarding behaviors is “you get more of what you pay attention to.” This means if you are constantly nagging, correcting, and pointing out faults you can be sure you will get more of the actions that are causing problems. Likewise, if you are often complimenting and pointing out when a child does something well you are likely to get more positive behaviors. Praising any step forward your child takes in the direction of good behaviors will pay off in the long run.
Take a timeout: Even adults need to take timeouts and cool down sometimes. If you notice that you and your child tend to push each other’s buttons which leads to raised voices and/or harsh words, taking a break is a wise option. Letting your child know that you want to come back to the conversation after you have cooled down is modeling healthy emotion regulation skills and is more likely to lead to a positive outcome. It also allows you as the parent to stay in control of the situation rather than feeling like your child is somehow manipulating things to their advantage!
Reflect: In the middle of the chaos called parenting, don’t forget to pause and reflect on the beauty of your child. Taking time to journal a few thoughts or post a fun memory is a mindful way to keep yourself in check so that you don’t let small irritations become the focus of time spent with your child. You won’t regret taking a few minutes out of each day to pause and appreciate the gift of parenting.
Of course, there is appropriate discipline that will be incorporated along the way as kids feel most secure with appropriate boundaries and rules. Sometimes mental health issues can make working understanding your child a real challenge and seeing a counselor can help keep the relationship on track. Research continues to demonstrate that kids are more likely to listen and communicate with adults when they feel heard and respected…just like their parents!