By Sarah Lyons
The first and most important relationship we have in our lives is the one with our parents. Children learn how to love, play, interact, and resolve conflict through the bond they form with their parents. From the moment a child is born, they want their parents love and attention and it helps form their confidence and identity develop as they receive it. As they mature, the bond strengthens through shared experiences and by spending quality time together. Here are some easy ways to strengthen the parent-child bond.
The simplest way to bond with your child is to spend time playing with them. Play comes naturally to children and is a great way to spend quality time with them. Play teaches them life skills such as how to share, resolve conflict, and how to follow rules. It is also a great way to bond with your child. By playing peek-a-boo, tossing a ball in the backyard, playing house, or making crafts, you are bonding with your child because you are sharing in their joy of those activities. Playtime gives your child a safe place to share their feelings and express worries. By spending time doing what they enjoy, you are showing them they are important, and you are there for them.
Find a mutual interest
What is your child interested in? If your child enjoys reading, create a two-person book club and discuss the books as you read. If your child loves football, make game night a family event and cheer on your team. If your child is interested in dinosaurs, visit a museum. Since some of my lifelong friends grew from playing sports or participating in activities together, the same can be assumed when we are talking about parent-child bonding. If you truly enjoy activities together, a stronger bond will naturally form.
Tell them you love them and why
It is likely your children know you love them but how often do you tell them? Saying I love you to your child has powerfully positive effects for your child. Try not just saying you love them but tell them why. “I love you because you are so fun to be around.” or “I love you because you care about others.” Words of affirmation are powerful tools to give our kids the self-confidence they need to face the world and they are a great way to bond with your child. Similarly, snuggling, hugs, kisses, pats on the back, or even tickling and wrestling give your child the physical affection and bonding they crave from their parents and creates a strong bond.
Make them a priority
Put down your phone and talk to your child. Show them that they are your number one priority. If you have a task that needs to be done, ask them to let you finish it and when it’s complete, give your child your full attention. If you have multiple children, it can be hard to spend one-on-one time with them. Set aside time to gon on a “date” with each of your children so you can connect and check-in with what they have going on. Ask them open ended questions and then listen to the answers. When you commit to making your child a priority, they will feel important and it will help to strengthen your relationship.
Create a helper
For the busy parent, finding the time to make quality moments is a daunting task in addition to all your other responsibilities. To ease this try incorporating them into your daily tasks. While you are cooking dinner, doing dishes, or folding laundry ask your child to help and start up a conversation. Some kids may bond with their parents over fixing the car, painting, gardening, or any household task. Not only are you creating a great opportunity to spend time together, but you are teaching them life skills and a good work ethic.
Love them no matter what
One of the best ways to build a healthy bond with your child is to let them know you will love them no matter what. You communicate this by listening to their problems, offering advice when appropriate and then respecting their decisions, even if it will have negative consequences. If your child makes a mistake, let them know you are there to love and support them through the challenges that they may face. Everyone needs to know they have someone in their corner, especially on the bad days.
Most of these ideas are not profound or difficult to do, they just take a little planning and intentionality. Over time, without even trying, the bonds will be built, and your child will have a foundation of love and support as they mature.