mom discussing bike riding options

Whether your children are five or fifteen, you can have closer relationships with them by doing a few simple things:

1. Treat your child the way you would like to be treated – with respect, as a fellow human being who wants to be valued and loved. Stop yelling and ordering and start asking and explaining.

black family reading

2. Spend regular time with your kids without technology. Draw up a schedule with their input, setting basic times for bedtime reading and cuddles, playtime (even short ten-to-fifteen minute periods are valuable), and outings to the park or just for a walk.

3.Be with your child. Look at him when you speak and when he answers you, and listen carefully to his responses and ideas. He needs to feel valued and respected, just as you do.

cell phones at mealtime

4.Ignore your phone when with your kids. I saw it again. And again. And again: Families sitting in restaurants for family dinners, with Moms and Dads on their phones, and kids just waiting for attention. Moms in the supermarket with kids in the carts, on their phones as they did their shopping. Parents in the park, sitting on park benches, on their phones while little ones tried to get their attention.

There should be no technology at the dinner table whether at home or at a restaurant. This is your chance to be face-to-face with your kids (and your partner!), and have some real conversation about their day and yours. This is the time for showing your love, by really being in the present moment with them. Who is more important than your family members? Can’t texting wait? Calls can be taken by voice mail and picked up later.

family at dinner

If you’re out with your family, give them your undivided attention. This doesn’t mean hovering over them to make them eat, or criticizing their manners. It’s about encouraging positive things you see in them and verbalizing them to the kids. When you’re on your phone in their presence, you’re teaching them that they don’t matter.

It’s easily corrected. Just turn off your phone! Have some fun being together.

5. Ask your kids for advice. I don’t mean tell them all your problems, but, when you’re up against something at work or have choices for dinner, decor, vacations etc., ask for their input. Kids are so smart. They have great ideas, and they’ll surprise and delight you if you give them the chance. They’ll feel like they are valuable members of the family and their behavior will reflect it.

mom and teen talking

6. Be encouraging. Stop criticizing and start to recognize anything positive that your children do. Comment when they’re helpful, when they’re happy, or for any reason you can think of when you’re together. Don’t lavish praise by focusing on them, but notice the way they do things. A good phrase to remember is “Notice the deed, not the doer”.

Start today. You’ll notice that you’ll feel closer to your children and less stressed about your connection to them. You’re setting the pattern for the teen years if you start when they’re young. If you have a teen already, and you’re worried about your relationship, make a beginning on these steps I’ve suggested, have patience, and you’ll soon find that there’s less silence and more conversation.

I’m here to help you. Just let me know how I can assist you.

dinnertime

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