Any empty nester will tell you: They grow up fast. They might be semi-annoying infants right now, but in a year or two, you’ll desperately miss their cuddles and simple needs. As time goes by, your babies turn into kids who naturally develop a distance from you — so if you want to maintain a close with your kids, it is important to work on relationship building with them.
Too often, parents expect their children to remain clingy and doting, but the truth is that it takes great parental effort to develop and maintain a strong bond that lasts a lifetime — it isn’t just that few minutes of skin-to-skin right after birth that creates a connection. Here are a few ways you can work to bond with your little ones now, so you can enjoy a close relationship even after they grow big.
5 Tips for Relationship Building with Your Kids
It should hardly be surprising that the most powerful tool available to humankind is also the tool you should be using to bond with your kids. Communication is key for building any type of relationship, but it is especially vital between parents and children. This is because children are wholly reliant on their parents, and communication allows parents and children to efficiently exchange information and emotions. Communication done right forges mutual trust and respect, which is essential for a strong and lasting bond.
Communication doesn’t come easy to everyone, so if you find yourself struggling to communicate well with your children, practice these tricks:
- Talk about your day. By being open about what you have done during the day, you encourage your kid to share what they are going through, too, especially during tough times.
- Be honest. You shouldn’t try to brush off emotions or make up explanations for things. By telling the truth, you don’t show weakness; you show your kids the power of honesty.
- Listen. Good leaders listen more than they speak. As the leader of your family, you need to be able to understand your child, especially when their body language says more than their words.
Prioritize Family Time
Most modern parents have more responsibilities than they can handle — and that’s outside of their parental duties. Family time often seems like less of a priority than a big work project or mopping the floors, but the truth is that bonding with your kids should be at the top of every to-do list. In putting your kids first, you are proving that they matter to you, which helps them form a stronger connection to you in return.
Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be difficult to squeeze family time and relationship building into your schedule. When kids are little, they’ll love participating in adult activities like cleaning the house and yard, meaning you can accomplish other tasks and enjoy quality family time. As kids age, they’ll get busier too, meaning any time you spend together will be valuable.
Learn Skills Together
A kid’s life is dedicated to learning; it’s essentially their job to soak up as much information and skill as possible in their first 18 years. In fact, it’s likely that your kids will be learning things you forgot decades ago, so it is well worth your time to be active in their schoolwork and learn alongside them. This shows your kids that you value knowledge and education, and it even facilitates good grades.
Even outside of schoolwork, you can learn and acquire skills as a family as part of relationship building. Activities like reading can be fun, interactive and educational. You might enroll in extracurricular classes, like music lessons or athletics, to share a skill-building experience. When you can talk to your kids about what you both learned, you’ll grow together.
Be Creative Together
Learning isn’t everything. Sometimes you just need to let loose and have fun with your kids, and the best way to do that is through creative activities. When most people hear the term “creative,” they think of drawing and painting — and that can be part of it if you and your kids are passionate about art. However, you can also be creative with musical instruments, with costumes and makeup, and even with movement and sports equipment.
Engaging in creative practices helps you and your kids express yourselves in a totally new way. This can facilitate communication and bring forth ideas and emotions that might be bubbling beneath the surface. You should try to keep your creative practices light, but you should also be open to experimentation.
There’s no preventing it — your kids are going to grow up. It’s inevitable that some distance will develop between you and your little ones; ultimately, you don’t want your little one living in your house forever. Fortunately, if you remain available to them during their teen years, young adult years, and beyond through relationship building, your bond will be strong for their lifetime.
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