Four Simple Ways to Strengthen Your Relationship with Your Child This Year
By Kami Loyd
It’s a new year, and with that comes a time for new beginnings and new goals. Along with getting more exercise, losing weight, and many other goals forgotten before spring break, a great goal to set is to improve our relationships with our children. But this goal is so important we don’t want to forget it or quit it early in the year. We can break this quitting cycle, and we can do it together! Here are four ideas that will bring you closer to your children and improve your relationship with them now and in the future.
1.Spend one-on-one time with your children. One of my fondest memories of growing up was going on a daddy-daughter date where my dad took me to the mall, let me pick out a new fish for his fish tank, and bought me an Orange Julius. It was not an overly expensive or logistically challenging “date,” but it’s one I remember many years later. Most of us have busy lives, and carving out more time for our children amid the myriad of tasks and responsibilities we have can seem daunting. But this one-on-one time is so important and can make a huge difference in their lives. These dates should be focused on our children, which means we should make sure we put away our screens and engage with our children directly.
Carey Casey with the National Center for Fathering has found children especially benefit when their fathers chooses to spend one-on-one time with them. Children start to recognize they are important to their fathers and open up to them. This can help children continue to connect to their fathers knowing that they can talk to them about any of the issues they are facing.
2.Have family dinners without electronics. In our screen-time dominated society, taking time for our families away from screens is essential. Family dinners can provide the time we need as we leave our phones away from the table and focus on each other. These electronic-free dinners have been an important aspect of my marriage because they give my husband and I time to reconnect with each other as well as with our children at the end of each day. Family dinners are so important that The Family Dinner Project has found physical, mental, and emotional benefits such as stronger self-esteem, healthier eating habits, and more family connectedness for the whole family. As families take the time to eat together, whether or not the meal is homemade, they will begin to experience the benefits for themselves. Setting a weekly menu at the beginning of the week can give you more time on weeknights to devote to having family dinners instead of deciding what to make. Another suggestion is to have the whole family put their electronics into airplane mode, which would stop annoying telemarketers and other distractions during dinner.
3.Tell them you love them – This idea seems like common sense, but many times as parents we forget to tell our children we love them in words and actions. Children need to know they are loved no matter what they do or say. Much of what children hear from others is how they aren’t good enough. Letting them know they are loved can change their outlook. According to the National Center for Fathering, only 3-4 percent of current dads were told on a constant basis that they were loved by their fathers. So be different! Help your child to know you love them. Find out what their love language is, and “speak” to them in those ways.
Telling your child you love them can be as simple as giving them a hug, writing a note for their lunchbox, or sending a text message to express your affection for them.
4.Have frequent, open conversations with your children. As a child, I knew I could talk to my parents about almost anything going on in my life. This gave me the confidence to talk to them about my struggles in school, bullies, and what I could do to stay away from peer pressures like underage drinking and sex. Open conversations may seem difficult to undertake, but they can benefit parents and children. Asking questions such as “What did you play at recess?” or “What was the neatest thing you learned today and why?” can help you learn more about your kids and help them feel you really care about their answers. For even more amazing conversation starters, check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child available here.
Each of us wants to have mentally, emotionally, and physically strong children, and this time of year is a great time to make new goals to build your relationship with your child. Set these goals today, and see your relationship grow!
Or Check out Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age–A simple, super-helpful guide that gives YOU the words to talk about tough, timely topics of today (like racism, integrity, agency, healthy sexuality, LGBTQI issues, social media, and more).
Kami Loyd received her bachelors of Marriage and Family from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She and her husband have been married four years, and she is the proud mother of four children. Her interest include reading, board games, and most of all her family. She is passionate about helping her children and others find joy in family life.
Casey, C. (n.d.). 3 Benefits of One-On-One Time. Retrieved September 20, 2017, from http://www.fathers.com/s6-your-kids/c32-preschoolers/3-benefits-of-one-on-one-time/
David, H., & Bacharach, B. (1965, April 15). What The World Needs Now Is Love [Folk Rock song performed by Jackie DeShannon].
Moody, L. D. (n.d.). Discover Your Love Language. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from http://www.5lovelanguages.com/
National Center for Fathering. (2017). The Power of “I Love You” from Dad. Retrieved September 21, 2017, from http://www.fathers.com/s12-championship-fathering/the-power-of-i-love-you-from-dad/ ac
The Family Dinner Project. (2017). Benefits of Family Dinners. Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://thefamilydinnerproject.org/about-us/benefits-of-family-dinners/