Last week I wrote about improving the parent-child bond, my response to the Globe and Mail’s article ‘The Disintegration of the Parent-Child Bond’. In my view the question should be ‘how do I instill a sense of love and acceptance in my children when they’re spending more of their waking hours with people other than me and my husband?’ which I think was missed in the Globe and Mail article.
One easy, passive way we do that in our home is with family photographs. And while I know a lot about how family photographs affect self-esteem in children, I always love reading more about improving the parent-child bond. This week I turned to some of my favourite local experts for their thoughts.
Here’s what they said….
Margery Healey, The Compassionate Parent Coach
“If I could share one thought on strengthening the parent child bond it would be this… Children look to fulfill three basic needs; a sense of belonging, a need to feel understood and strong sense of being and feeling loved.
How do we invite a sense of belonging into our relationship? Ensure they know their place in your family and that they have a valued sense of worth within your home. Invite them to contribute in meaningful ways. Young children love to help in the home with food preparation or with the laundry. The idea is to do this with them and not to have them complete a job or a chore in isolation. If the child is older, ask for a contribution in a more exciting ways. For example, maybe they help plan a family vacation with you. We can start showing our children how they belong to a core unit that supports each other.
So how do we invite a feeling of being understood? As our children grow older they begin to realize they are more like their peers and less like their parents. They feel their peers understand them more than we can. In actual fact we all went through adolescence and most of us can recall experiencing the emotions of those years. Our children’s favourite stories always begin with, ‘When I was young I…’ Share those stories when it relates to something they are going through.
How do we show love? Love is a word that can be difficult to define for some. What is it exactly? The truth is that love is more a feeling than a wordy definition. As well, feeling loved is subjective. Inquire with your child, ‘What do I do that makes you feel loved?’ Ask it often knowing that their answer is the key to continuing a life long relationship.”
Yes to all of it! I especially love Margery’s ideas on inviting kids to contribute in meaningful ways. This is not my strong point; I’d rather just do the cooking myself and get it done (more quickly and with less mess). I’m definitely going to be more aware of this going forward.
Jamie Dunlop-Khau, Styling the Inside
“The bond between a parent and child is one of the most important bonds our children will have. Strengthening and maintaining a strong bond however, is a daily practice. This is something that we as parents must maintain, build and nourish. Unfortunately, life can get busy. As a result, our parenting becomes mundane activities, like rushing the kids out the door, preparing them their meals, and getting them ready for bed… to start yet, another day!
Here are 5 simple yet effective ways we can strengthen and nurture our bond with our children:
1. Schedule one-on-one time.
2. Sit down together as a family at meal times.
3. Have open communication (about the uncomfortable stuff too).
4. Be affectionate. Give hugs!!
5. Listen over lecturing. Turning off our phones and giving our children our full presence shows our children that the things they tell us are important to us.”
Ashley Wiles, Sole Girls
1. Listen. Stop telling kids what is right/wrong and preparing your answers before they finish and start listening. Kids need and want to share, and often there are underlying messages around what they are talking about. Learn to listen without interrupting, make time for it.
2. Let it go. When you have a long day it’s easy to get frustrated that something isn’t picked up or chores aren’t done… think about what energy you are bringing to the table and what your own frustration you might be taking out on others. Don’t hold on to things that aren’t working for you.
Ashley’s ‘let it go’ is a sentiment that plays through my head constantly. When one of my kids is doing something that’s bordering the line of acceptable behaviour in our house, I try to recognize if it will help them more in the long run if I address the behaviour in that moment or strengthen the connection –sometimes more successfully than others.
And if you’re in the Vancouver area, mark your calendar for May 29th. The Sole Girls Sole Awesome 5km Event is the perfect way to squeeze in some fun, confidence-building one-on-one time with your son or daughter.
So there you have it… lots of thoughts on improving the parent-child bond and simple ways you can do that, whether your children are toddlers or teens.
Which ones will you implement in your home?