Building strong parent-child relationships from young
Ever thought that your relationship with your child isn’t as strong as you would’ve liked? Finding it hard to build on the relationship? Fret not, as this article will focus on building stronger rapport between parents and young children!
Why is the parent-child relationship so important?
Due to its far-reaching impact on the social, behavioural, and emotional aspects of a child’s life, building a strong relationship with our children is paramount. Without proper parental support, our children are more likely to have negative outcomes such as behavioural problems and may even struggle in school as a result (National Education Association).
The social implications are equally salient. Children who have close and supportive interactions with their parents are less prone to engage in risky behaviour such as substance abuse and delinquency. Thus, creating a safe and nurturing environment that protects our children from succumbing to potential social pitfalls is essential, particularly early on in their lives while improving their social and emotional wellness.
Lastly, the strength of our children’s relationships with us has a strong impact on their emotional well-being, with this unique bond being one that should aim to offer emotional stability and guidance that results in better mental health and psychological resilience.
How can we build up our relationships with our young children?
The benefits of bonding with children, even from early childhood, are evident. How then can we as parents strive for a level of rapport that encourages positive growth in them?
One possible activity could be reading aloud to our children. Facilitating and creating opportunities for interactions between parent and child enhances our ability to tend to the child’s needs and empathise with them more (Blumberg & Griffin 2013). On the child’s end, these engagements support the development of effective socio-emotional, language comprehension, and communication skills (Bergin, 2001; Aram & Shapira, 2012).
In a similar vein, engaging in child-driven play can help to foster bonding between our children and us, in addition to its role in enhancing children’s decision-making, creativity and group skills. This is because it allows us to garner some insights into our children’s perspectives while simultaneously strengthening the relationship through the focused attention given and shared experiences created. (Ginsburg, 2007)
Having meals as a family is also highly beneficial to the strengthening of the parent-child relationship. Not only are such mealtimes great opportunities for relaxed conversations but they are also associated with better communication and stronger emotional bonds within the family (Musick and Meier, 2012). Even if the children are still young, it’s not too early to cultivate this routine!
On top of all these little steps you can take, it is also crucial to build and maintain open and effective communication channels with our children.
Here are some tips for positive communication with children! (Zolten & Long, 2006)
Start communicating effectively when they’re young in both verbal (e.g., letting them know they are accepted despite what they say) and nonverbal ways (e.g., gestures and facial expressions)
Eliminate distractions when communicating with your child to give them your undivided attention
Expressing our feelings and ideas is important as conversations go both ways - Parents can share their thoughts and moral values, as long as it is in a non-judgmental way
Do note - every family is different, and different families may bond in very different ways. Regardless, it is never too soon to start forging strong bonds with our children, as it is a gradual process that takes time and effort!
Do keep up-to-date on our Total Wellness Initiative Singapore website for more Social Wellness tips!
Aram D., Shapira R. (2012). Parent-child shared book reading and children’s language, literacy, and empathy development. Rivista. Italiana. di. Educazione. Familiare. 2, 55–65. doi: 10.1400/227336
Bergin C. (2001). The parent-child relationship during beginning reading. J. Lit. Res. 33, 681–706. doi: 10.1080/10862960109548129
Blumberg D. M., Griffin D. A. (2013). Family connections: the importance of prison reading programs for incarcerated parents and their children. J. Offender Rehabil. 52, 254–269. doi: 10.1080/10509674.2013.782773
Kenneth R Ginsburg, 2007; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Communications; American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health 2007 Jan;119(1):182-91. doi: 10.1542/peds.2006-2697.
Musick, K., & Meier, A. (2012). Assessing causality and persistence in associations between family dinners and adolescent well-being. Journal of Marriage and Family, 74(3), 476-493.
Tim Walker (2015) Children of incarcerated parents are more likely to struggle in school. https://www.nea.org/advocating-for-change/new-from-nea/children-incarcerated-parents-more-likely-struggle-school-study-finds