The only thing constant with kids is change! This not just means all about what they like and what they don’t, but also how we involve in this relationship as parents. Not eating dinner together; feeling difficult moving on following an argument; intervening at the slightest of their uneasiness and not letting them evolve themselves. If these attributes are what you too have been acknowledging, your relationship needs to be worked upon and step back lest things become worse is what you need to do as the needful. If you still haven’t realized it, here is what mental experts have to say about how you might unknowingly be ruining this relationship:
Your mood affecting the mutual relationship
Slipping off a smile through your tedious schedule and annoyance of a rough schedule might sound indifferent, but one should know that children are quite sensitive to the emotions of their parents, and more of the negativities. As such, frequent apathetic interaction with them adds to damaging your relationship. In Amanda Lopez’s words, who is a family counselor in California, asking yourself whether the way you act seeing your child walking in a room, with you ignoring them instead of being happy is what you do, there needs something to be done to, probably fake it till you achieve that bliss, and that doesn’t even need a lot of effort – just a little smile or a loving look would do the required. Everyone needs acknowledgment, and children are no exception to it, instead, they want and need even more of it! On a tough day, making peace with your grudges and setting them aside before interacting with children is what a healthy relationship demands, and that is what would add to your happy relationship with the child.
Mismanaging your children’s tantrums
If they are children, they will show tantrums, and that is what most parents fail to deal effectively with. But to Lopez, more tantrums indicate a flaw in the connection a child should have with their parents. For this, she suggests mirroring the child’s emotions while putting those emotions into words, like instead of holding them responsible for their frustration over not going to bed, correct yourself by saying that it is okay being frustrated when they do not want to do something, but it is the time they should be in bed. Providing them with an alternative option to choose from makes them learn to soothe themselves, and eventually will reduce their emotions from venting out.
Not getting the required quality time along with each other
Of these all ways of containing your relationship, the most important one is spending time together, quality time to be more specific! This act of yours could provide you with many opportunities to teach your children what you expect them to know and learn from you – be it moral values, lessons for life, forming a deep bond with your children; These times spent together also redouble your understanding of each other. Quality time is quite much a broad aspect, which means it could be anything you desire – playing some game, reading stories together, sports, or even simpler things such as talking how your day went render the needful. The compulsion is just to be attentive and staying present when you are together. Even being alongside them, cause if you are attending to something else – you both are missing each other, Lopez explains.
Not knowing your child’s interests
Building up relationships involves knowing each other, and what better way could there be than knowing what your child is interested in; how their mind works; what they find interesting. If you could not figure out how to converse with your child about their hobbies and interests, it might be a signal that you are not spending quality time together, or are not paying attention to them. Those little details of their life – how they made a friend, how much they enjoyed a class, whom they argued with, who they don’t like. These small things might be not so worthwhile for you, but to them, it’s their life. Mendez suggests to ask them how their day went, and not just ask – be excited in listening to their tales, sow interest in those stories as much they show in narrating them.
Not talking to children concerning your feelings
The ability of naming and processing one’s feelings is one of those traits that children, for the most part, learn at home. On the parents’ part, modeling “name it to tame it” their feelings for themselves keeping in view their children plays a role, as was stated by a New York child specialist Lucia Garcia Giurgiu. While dumping adult problems on the kids, even though they are ready to listen to them, doesn’t seem worthy, sharing your difficult moments at the right age only strengthens the bond. This will not only help you refine in their vision, but also train them to safely deal with their negativities.
Abstaining from giving them benefit of doubt
Making mistakes is part of a child’s growth, but counting those mistakes as intentional would create mistrust from both sides that, no doubt, leads to alienation from your child. Make a change within yourself to overlook those petty mistakes and train yourself to think that it might have been an accident, and your child didn’t mean harm. Assess their capacity for understanding things and make the decision accordingly. Do not fail to remind them, though, that you do not like what mistakes they have done, but at the same time understand that those mistakes were not deliberate. Explain to them how and what they could do to mend those mistakes.
Avoiding speaking with your kids on difficult topics
With all the ambivalence of emotions your child deals with every day, if you do not become their mentor, they would have no one to turn to other than their mates and their gut, which often doesn’t turn out to be good! To keep such a situation from taking root, do not make too much a taboo of topics as sex and drugs to discuss. Gita Zarnegar, Ph.D., therapist and co-founder in The Center for Authenticity says that children are perceptive enough to pick up those non-verbal cues of discomfort their parents face. It might turn out that your ignorance of such topics speaks up even more to your children about it, and perhaps not in a way you would want them to know.
Is the time being spent linked to devices?
Spending ‘quality’ time becomes hordes easier if you both are relying on electronic devices, but as they say – good things don’t come easy! Such togetherness is all the more meaningless because you are not with each other actually in reality, but are connecting through some external prop, said Heidi McBain, an LMFT from Flower Mound in Texas. To limit such concerns, parents should set boundaries around electronic equipment, as well as themselves and other family members. Instead of relying on such devices, you could plan some other enjoyable activities to lighten up your mood and connect better, like going out for a stroll, baking something sweet together, or maybe going on picnics.
Spoon-feeding your child
Parents nowadays are becoming increasingly loving, they tend to screen their children from the slightest of uneasiness, but doing so, they are holding back their children from personal growth and reaching the full potential they otherwise could. Zarnegar states that doing everything for the children deprives them of the experiences that would otherwise only lead to their improvement. Not having such experiences would make them unaware of their weaknesses and the areas they need to improve, and such children would go on to develop a demeaning sense about themselves and what their capacities are.
Not celebrating your child’s achievements
The primary source of pride and confidence for a kid is their parent’s validation. Just a mere appreciation shall root a feeling of success in the child, as well as strengthen your bond. Mayra Mendez, Ph.D., LMFT, and a psychotherapist from Santa Monica in California, claims that it is the good traits in a child their parents should seek, as well as point out. It is not about spoiling them with all the sweet words, rather, praising their hard work – the process they put in to achieve that feat, and not just the result. Doing so requires close observation of what your child is good at, the positives they do, howsoever small they might be.
You spending most of your time together in correcting everything they do
Discipline and rules are vital for the wholesome development of a child, but burdening them with too much of the same shall only add to them a feeling that whatever they do, it just does not please you! For such, Mendez calls out that consistently focusing only on your belief of what your child might be doing wrong shall result in a downgrade of your relationship with them and suppressing trust. Do not show too much stubbornness in places where they are not required, like whether your 8-year-old child goes to bed on time or not. Instead, work on enforcing only those rules that you believe most strongly in.
Not knowing who their friends are
To befriend your child, be aware of the things that most concern them, one of which is their friends. This seemingly insignificant detail bridges that gap that might be existing between your world with them and their world that they create outside, for themselves. It also helps to get an insight into who and what your child is influenced by, which kind of people matter in their life, their habits outside the house, et cetera. Knowledge of your child’s friends should top the list of things you need to do to facilitate your relationship with them.
Rarely having meals together
A family having its meals together is the supreme sign of oneness, as they not only foster a parent-child relationship, but also inculcate healthy food habits, communication skills amidst children, states Nicole Beurkens, Ph.D. and a clinical psychologist from Caledonia, Michigan. Try to get into a routine of sitting down together with your family for meals if you are not already into it; which is an effective way for improving your relationship with your child.
Struggling while moving on following conflicts with them
Arguments are not uncommon in a family. It is a way children try to express their will, and parents, in turn, try to make sure that their children’s actions are within a proper limit of safety and discipline. These clashes are momentary, but if the grudge of such conflicts bothers you for a longer time than it should, it probably is an outcome of ineffective or poor communication and feeling of mistrust, which are as bad as animosity. It is upon the parents to give way to their anger from lingering for too long and teaching their children as well to let go of these emotions.
Or not letting failure reach them
Shielding your children from failure or disappointment means passing down your fear to them, ultimately sending a message that whatever good they do is just not worthful. Not allowing your kids to fail sends down a message that failing in something brings shame and is unacceptable. The problem with such a thing is that if failure ever hits them, they would not be able to accept it and their confidence would be affected as well.
Being impatient with their emotions
Kids are a reserve of emotions, and being parents, we tend to highlight the positivity while ignoring the rest, and not making them improve those shortcomings. Feeling impatient during the child’s low and eager mood to skip to when they’re happy is a sign that you need to work upon your relationship. Tania DaSilva, a youth and child therapist based in Toronto, claims that encouraging kids to experience their feelings and mend their own way out of it gives them the freedom for becoming emotionally healthy and stable. Though it is common nature to try to save one’s children from unlikely feelings, the other side to it that people often ignore is that it doesn’t lead to children being resilient. Letting children experience their emotions and figure out for themselves is the right way parenting needs to be done.
DaSilva says that howsoever demeaning these all might feel, these are our opportunities to learn, and accordingly, grow. Failures are the stepping stones to learning, and when we learn, we grow. Thus, it isn’t like these flaws couldn’t be mended; we only have to know where and how to start improving ourselves! Try to work upon them along with your child and examine whether you could make up an ideal parent.