Children can be oh-so-adorable one minute and drive you crazy the next! In fact, raising kids can make you question many of the things you thought you knew about being a parent before you actually had kids.
The question is: how do you maintain a positive relationship with your kids, considering all the challenges in raising well-rounded children? The answer lies in adopting certain active parental roles that meet children’s needs at different growth and development stages.
And if we’re being honest, sensitive and active parenting can be quite challenging. However, building a positive parent child relationship is doable. Not easy, but doable.
Here’s how to build positive relationships with your children.
Key Parental Roles for Building Positive Parent Child Relationship
Sometimes, it seems you don’t know the first thing about raising kids, which can be frustrating. However, patience is key when raising kids.
And it’s not just being patient with your child’s unreasonable demands and unexplainable meltdowns but also being patient with yourself.
Truth is, being a parent is hard, at least if you want to raise kids the right way.
That said, creating a nurturing environment is important for raising well-balanced, resilient, and confident children. And while parenting can be time-consuming and exhausting, many parents ― myself included ― have found significant success with the following parenting techniques.
1. Love Your Kids Unconditionally
Your children shouldn’t have any doubt that you love them. Of course, parents naturally love their kids, but never assume that your children know this for a fact.
Demonstrate to your kids that they can count on your love, no matter what and regardless of their behavior, achievements, or failures.
Be intentional about finding opportunities to tell your kids that you love them, no matter how old they are. Don’t underestimate the positive effect of saying “I love you” to your children as often as possible.
You want to drum this unshakable truth into them so that it will stick with them and echo in their minds, even when they behave badly and feel they have disappointed you. Nothing draws your kids closer to you and makes them feel safer in their relationships with you than knowing they can count on your unconditional love.
2. Create a Safe and Secure Environment That Supports Healthy Child Development
One of your most important parental roles is to create a safe home environment for your children. Kids raised in safe and secure environments grow up believing that they can overcome any obstacle and achieve almost anything they set their minds to. As recent research shows, it takes sensitive parenting to build and nurture that type of confidence in kids.
Creating an environment where children can feel safe and secure comes down to a few important steps:
Set Clear Rules and Boundaries
Be clear about acceptable behavior and what’s off-limits. You don’t want to leave your kids in the dark about what’s okay and not okay.
While it may seem like a harsh way to raise kids, children are more likely to feel safer in homes with clearer rules. Besides, setting rules and boundaries help kids learn how to follow the rules in other places outside the home.
Be Consistent About Expectations and Consequences
Setting rules is one thing; being consistent about enforcing them is a different ball game entirely. Of course, children will break the rules once in a while to test their limits. This is to be expected, and as a parent, you must enforce consequences in healthy ways.
Unfortunately, many parents are guilty of shifting the goalpost when it comes to expectations and consequences. Doing this may please the child in the short term but hurt them in the long run.
Remember that inconsistency in enforcing rules can be confusing for children. And when kids are confused, they feel insecure and unsure of their actions.
If you must change any rule, make sure everyone in the family is in the know. This way, your children will understand exactly what they are expected to do and the consequences of breaking the rules.
Be sure everyone in the household follows whatever rules work for your home. I understand the need for flexibility, especially when dealing with kids of different ages and varying developmental stages. Still, there should be no room for favoritism if you’re hoping to build positive relationships with your kids.
Provide Physical and Emotional Needs
For kids to feel secure and build a strong bond with their parents, their basic physical and emotional needs must be met.
This goes beyond putting food on the table and clothes on their backs. Seize every chance you get to strengthen the emotional connection with your kids.
Use warm expressions when you greet them. Encourage honest interactions with genuine smiles, give loving hugs as much as possible, and maintain eye contact during conversations.
These small gestures go a long way to communicate security and further cement the parent child bond you share.
3. Practice Open and Honest Communication
Does it feel like your kids are closed off or distant from you? It might be because they feel judged when they talk with you.
It will take some practice but try to be less judgmental by listening with an open mind and putting yourself in your kids’ shoes. This way, you will see things from their perspective and better understand their origin.
Children will feel safe to talk about anything if they are sure you won’t judge them for expressing themselves.
Besides building trust and mutual respect, your relationship with your kids will be stronger if you make room for open and honest communication.
Here are a couple more things to keep in mind when communicating with your children:
Be Upfront About Your Strengths and Weaknesses
The most effective way to teach your kids that vulnerability is not scary is by being honest about your strengths and weaknesses. Whenever you get the chance, tell your children how you overcame your weaknesses by drawing upon your strengths.
By being honest about your weaknesses, you instill trust in your kids. But most importantly, you draw them closer and make them comfortable to share their shortcomings with you.
Apologize When You Are Wrong
One of the most important parental roles is to teach children how to make amends when they mess up. Saying sorry (and meaning it) is a practical way to teach this valuable lesson.
Everyone makes mistakes, including parents, so don’t be afraid to apologize to your kids when you react too harshly or do something inappropriate.
Kids are naturally curious but will hold back if the environment is not right. Encourage your kids to communicate with you by being open to answering their questions. And don’t be too proud to admit when you don’t know something.
4. Be Available
Being physically available and emotionally present in children’s lives is one aspect of parenting that looks different for every family. For one family, it could mean being present at every dinner; for another, it may mean making time to be there during the big moments, like graduation and birthdays.
Some parents can’t be physically present in their children’s lives as much as they would like. For example, it might not always be possible for both parents to be physically present at all times in military families. A military parent can sometimes be away from their family anywhere from a few days to several months or a year.
Zig Ziglar famously said, “To a child, love is spelled T-I-M-E.”
With this in mind, making the most of the moments you share with your kids is important if you want to build a strong relationship with them. Remember, it is not the amount of time you spend with your children that matters but the quality of interaction you have that strengthens your bond.
Create some parent child rituals and parenting practices that can foster a deep connection and engagement with your kids. You could observe family game night weekly, monthly, or whatever works for you to achieve more family involvement. You could even invent a special handshake with each of your children. Use the handshake during special occasions, whenever you have to go away for a long time, or when you reunite.
The trick is to connect emotionally with your children so that your presence is felt whether or not you are physically present.
5. Set Positive Examples
Children pay more attention to their parent’s behavior than words. And this is why you must model the positive behaviors you want to see in your kids.
Setting positive examples for your children in early childhood as a role model calls for deep self-reflection. What are your personal values, and what family values do you want to instill in your children? What attitudes and qualities do you want to see in your kids?
Determine an appropriate behavior and demonstrate it in your everyday interactions. Let your kids see how you treat others with respect, manage difficult emotions, speak truthfully, and do kind things for others, including strangers.
Parenting is already hard as it is; trying to establish a positive parent child relationship makes it even more challenging! But no one says it will be easy raising a child who grows up to become your best friend.
Incorporating these parental roles into your preferred parenting style will take some practice. But it will be well worth the effort with time as your kids grow to love and respect you deeply.