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Pursuing a Relationship with your Child


Being a parent is a busy job. Between keeping up with the logistics of your household, endless appointments and holding down a job – you’ve got a lot on your plate. Getting to know your children, on a deeper level, doesn’t just happen by osmosis. If you’re having trouble connecting with your kids, we have some tips to help you pursue the relationship.

(1) Kids spell love “T-I-M-E”
You may not think that you can do much with that 15 minute drive from school to ballet. We think you can! Put down your phone, that call can wait. Most kids are really tired after school, so they may not want to talk about their day straight away. Ask one specific, open question about their day, such as; “Who did you spend recess with?”, “What did you learn in math today?”, or “What kind of books did you borrow from the library today?” You’ll soon gauge if they’re ready to talk, or just need you to be present with them.

(2) Meet them where they’re at
This one uses some intuition – find the best way to connect, for that child, for that moment. Spending time with your kids should be something that is both planned and spontaneous. When you’re planning individual time with a child, think beyond what you would like to do, and how you can do something that you both enjoy. If your child isn’t a big talker, a “coffee date” might not work. Tasks like rollerskating, going to the movies or shopping for something the child needs, could be more successful.

(3) Pursue, don’t force
If your child doesn’t like to be physically affectionate, don’t push it. That may be hard for you, but remember that relationships are a two-way street. Each person has a way of expressing and receiving love, and you may be surprised to find your child rolls differently than you. Spend some time thinking about what your child’s ‘love language’ may be, and come at your relationship from that angle.

(4) Use key times 
Driving in the car, at the dinner table and just before bed are usually the best times for parents to ask the big questions. Listen for what’s going on socially for your child, the way in which they talk about themselves and others, and what their current interests are. You are not simply your child’s friend – whether or not they’ll admit it – they need your guidance. Listen first, then guide.

(5) Reward with experiences
If you’re working on a behavior chart with a cumulative reward, we encourage families to give an experience as a reward. The best kinds of experiences are ones that bring mutual joy to both parents and children, as they will ultimately bring your family closer together. Try ditching that lego set or Barbie as motivation, and focus on how to build a strong family unit. Go out for ice cream together if the chart is full – go rock climbing, take a parent-child hike, go Build-a-Bear! Just do it together.

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