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How To Strengthen Parent Child Bond

How To Strengthen Parent Child Bond

By Dr. June Stride View more articles

I watched and listened to my niece in amazement as she twirled herself into the living room, and onto the couch next to me, picked up the thread of the conversation that my sister and I were having about gift buying, and pronounced, "That's pretty silly to spend so much time and money on people who don't need anything. Why don't you donate some money in their name to a charity?" Then as quickly as she had entered the living room and the conversation, she was gone. Within a minute, her complaining voice came to me from the kitchen, where she whined, "Mom, there is no chocolate milk here. I want some. You need to go get some, now!"

Are you a parent of a child ˜betwixt and between", who one moment astounds you with adult-like reasoning while the next moment confounds you with a temper tantrum over something like the absence of a favorite food? Does she continue to delight you with uncomplicated innocence and playfulness? Does she still affirm your infinite wisdom with acceptance of you as her own personal guru? If you find yourself admitting that the description fits, take advantage of this special time with your tween.

10 Tips for Strengthening the Between Bond

1. Set aside a special time to talk -- AND listen. (You make time to put your make up on, don't you? This is infinitely more important.)

Give your undivided attention to her, even if only for 10 minutes. Schedule it into each day, perhaps in the same place each time, with a temptingly nutritious snack food available for both of you.

2. Affirm your love with a hug, with your eye contact, by not interrupting, by your sincere interest.

Let her talk about personal interests and concerns. Encourage the sharing of opinions and the reasons behind the thoughts. Try not to criticize or argue, let the trust between you grow.

3. Share how you felt when you were growing up, your fears and concerns and especially how you overcame obstacles you faced.

Growing up has never been easy. Certainly, our kids today have to deal with serious temptations and dangers at a much too early age and need our guidance and support. Admitting that we were unsure about sex, boy-girl relationships, sharing how we handled dilemmas, successfully or not, may help them understand the need to think things through.

4. Encourage shared decision-making. Value the childrens' ideas and suggestions.

Kids today have to make decisions about life-changing issues such as drugs, sex, and even gangs before they have much opportunity to learn how to make responsible decisions and consider possible consequences. Give them a chance to practice decision making with family decisions such as vacation locations, ways to spend free time, and chores.

5. Help your tween begin to set goals and boundaries for herself. Help her to evaluate her own progress and to accept the consequences for behavior.

This is no easy thing to do; often it feels easier to tell your tween what to do. Start to give responsibility and guide her through the process. Demonstrate your concern as a parent, as well as your responsibility, to help her to become a dependable young adult.

6. Let your tween's current interest and passion guide you.

Reinforce your interest in your tween by following up on her favs in sports and entertainment. Encourage questions about celeb values, behaviors and consequences.

7. Change your TV diet.

If you have the TV on all the time, turn it off except for specific programs. Be very selective. For example, consider watching news programming that gives a more international view that may widen your child's scope of world events, perspectives and places. Don't succumb to round the clock news. Who needs to hear bad news over and over?

Encourage your tween to select a few great movie classics to watch with you. Let your tween share how she felt about it. Discuss the characters and their motivations -- would they have acted the same today as they did in the period piece movie?

FYI: The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (www.aacap.org/factsfm/tv.htm) reminds us that the typical child graduating from high school will have spent more time watching TV than in the classroom, an average of 3-4 hours per day. They also report a correlation between heavy duty TV watching and students who get lower grades in school, read fewer books, eat more junk food and have accompanying weight and health issues and, not surprisingly, exercise less.

8. Try alternatives to replace some of the former ˜mindless" TV time.

Promote one night as a family quiet reading time. You will have to establish the pattern and show your pleasure. Set a time and place for the family to read. Share your insights; ask your tween for hers! Start with small blocks of time. Know when to say when!

9. Challenge you tween to a family game of wits.

Who can find the city, state or county featured in the news of the day? Keep an atlas or map handy. Take turns identifying a current event location. Challenge all to three guesses about how the people live, what kind of weather they have, what problems they might have. Take turns using the Internet or encyclopedia to verify answers.

10. Encourage your tween to help you plan a weekly family trip to a school sponsored sports activity or event, the library, or a local cultural event.

Exude enthusiasm! Expand your knowledge of the resources available in your neighborhood. Check out the library special programs and resources.

Bright Idea: Let your tween ˜catch you" discussing newsworthy topics with another adult. Make an effort to shy away from solely expressing your opinion in favor of discussing reasons, implications, complications and the facts supporting them.

Bottom Line
Make the time with your tween joyous and enriching by sharing cultural events, reading, reflecting, discussing and most importantly, learning to listen to one another.