Skip to content

How to parent smarter not harder.

View all articles

Thinking Parenting Blog

Building a good relationship with your child

How you think about parenting makes a difference. Too often we can fall into the trap of seeing parenting as a type of ‘correction’ role – pointing out to our children what they buildig a good relationship with your childshould have done differently, directing their attention and learning, tackling their undesirable behaviour and inducting them into correct behaviour. What we are really communicating to our children through this relationship dynamic is that Mum/Dad knows best.

Which is perfectly understandable given that parents have so much more experience of the world than children – but the result can be a lot of conflict and negativity and not a lot of fun.

If we reframe that thinking and envisage our job as parents in terms of building a good relationship with our children then that opens the door to a different dynamic and to our children learning from us in a different way. Good relationships are mutual and respecting, built on communication and enjoying each other’s company.

Of course, all relationships have their rocky moments. But a good relationship makes it easier to recover from those.

If you are feeling that your relationship with your child is a little strained (for whatever reason), here are a few reminders that you might find helpful.

Spend time together

Relationships are built on time. Small frequent amounts of time are best, with some longer stretches interspersed. Ten minutes a day playing with your child (good quality play time). Or half an hour together when you switch off your phone and watch something funny together. Try doing things with your child in which you are not the expert – take an interest in what interests them. If you’ve got a teenager who’s permanently attached to a gadget then why not join in their game sometimes? Or suggest some high adrenalin family activities that neither of you have done before.

Be affectionate

Physical touch is a wonderful way to maintain closeness – a snuggle on the sofa, a ruffle of their hair, a big bear hug. Obviously, the older they are the more carefully you need to choose your moment (if in public, let older children set the rules for physical affection!).

Chat chat chat

Talk to your child. And by that, I don’t mean ask them questions about their day (“What did you do at school today?” “Nothing.”). Tell them about your day. Talk about the weather, the sunset, what you had for lunch, the guy you saw falling off the back of a bus – anything. Just chat. A lot. Children often open up far more when talking side-by-side about subjects other than themselves so make the most of car journeys to chat and see where the chatting leads you. (If you’ve got a non-verbal teenager in withdrawal-volcano mode then you might want to check out these tips for communicating with teenagers!)

Focus on the positives

Notice when your child does the right thing and tell them about it. Be sincere – but don’t lie or puff it up. Be honest and specific (“Well done for sitting down and doing your homework. I know you didn’t want to.“). And don’t always follow it up with a comment on what they could have done better! Children tend to repeat behaviour that gets attention so make sure you pay more attention to the behaviour you like than to behaviour you want to discourage. (see Help, the kids are driving me mad for more on this.)

Create special traditions

Doing the same thing together again and again can provide a thread that stitches together all your separate moments into a strong fabric. This is especially useful if time with your child is limited. Whether it’s always making pancakes on Sundays or Dad taking me swimming on Saturday mornings or just watching a regular TV programme together, special traditions that are unique to your family, or to you and your child, can really enhance relationships.

READ NEXT: How to have better weekends with children

Share this article:

The Work/Parent Switch.

By Anita Cleare

Not sure where to start?

Practical tips on how to be the parent your child needs and create happy family dynamics (but still do your job!)

Comments are closed.

Related Articles

photo of a woman sitting at a laptop looking bored

How to negotiate with your employer to achieve work/life goals

Guest post by Amanda Augustine For many parents, balancing the demands of parenthood and the pressures of the workplace can be an emotionally draining experience. When you’re constantly trying to...

Photo of young girl sitting outside holding her face up to the sun streaming through the trees, to illustrate article on family mindfulness activities

12 Family Mindfulness Activities

Daily mindfulness moments are a simple way to reduce stress and anxiety and boost family happiness levels. For parents, mindfulness can help us stop juggling thoughts and step into the present...

Photo of Dalya Wittenberg work-life balance blogger and podcast host

In pursuit of work-life balance

Finding work-life balance can be incredibly challenging as a working parent. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Balance looks different for different people, and our sense of balance often...

Photo of mum working on laptop while toddler plays to illustrate article on resetting work/parenting boundaries post-pandemic by parenting expert Anita Cleare

Resetting work/parenting boundaries post-pandemic

The Covid pandemic led to one of the biggest and most sudden changes we have ever seen when it comes to working practices, most especially for people who were traditionally office-based. The biggest...