I often share with parents one rule when parenting a child, and that is Rules – Relationship = Rebellion! As parents, we tend to be very good at the rules, but if we are missing the relationship, then we are missing a crucial part. Unfortunately, in today’s busy world, there are many things that easily distract us and can lead our child to feel neglected and alone emotionally. Kids are full of emotions and feelings, which often frustrate and overwhelm parents. After all, most of us struggle to manage our own stresses and emotions, let alone help a child deal with theirs. While we may think we are loving them, we may actually be missing it.
Whether your child is five or 15, it’s important that you do step forward and help them to feel loved, even in the midst of all of your daily stresses. Feeling cared for makes a huge difference in a child who is developing self-confidence and self-esteem. Here are 3 great ways to be more purposeful in letting them know they are loved:
1. Spend one-on-one time with them: If you have more than one child, spending alone time with each of them can be challenging, but it is still important. Even teens need our time, despite what they might be saying! Try to set aside time to spend alone with each child. The two of you could go on a walk together, go out for ice cream, or even see a movie. The activity is not as important as it is the time you spend together. When you do, give your child your full attention. This will let your child know that you care and that you’re interested in building up your relationship.
2. Talk with them about their feelings: Many adults get uncomfortable when feelings are on the table, but the truth is that children need to express themselves. Kids who bottle things up are more likely to have violent or aggressive outbursts. They are also more likely to be bullied at school. Be proactive when it comes to helping your child develop self-esteem and talk with your little one about different emotions. Remind your child of a time when you felt the same emotions or feelings. Don’t be afraid to get vulnerable and share personal stories. My own teen laughs at how I often have a personal story to share that fits the conversation perfectly. They really do love it, I promise!
3. Care about their hobbies: If your child loves a sport or activity that you can’t stand, work to develop an interest in it, no matter how difficult. For many parents, trying to connect with a child who is interested in something like anime or video games can be tough. Unfortunately, you need to connect with your child on this level. Let them know that you care about the things they care about. This means listening to your child talk about their hobby or interests and it means asking appropriate questions. Your child needs to know that you care about everything that is important to them even if it seems silly or uninteresting to you.
Remember, when our kids get out there and start facing decisions, the main ingredient is your relationship. If they have that, they are more likely to make better choices and when they do mess up, which will happen, they will have an easier time working through it.
If you’re struggling now in your relationship with your child, it’s never too late to start! Just by taking these 3 simple steps, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it grows into that closeness you want and is exactly what your child needs. If you are not sure how to begin or maybe you’ve already tried these ideas and it’s still not working, consider talking to someone or contact me for more insight and help in bridging that gap. It will be time well spent and will change your child’s life!