As parents, we all strive to have close relationships with our children. Although we always want to protect our kids from disappointment and unpleasant situations, it's also important that we remember to grant them their own freedoms and responsibilities. We all want our children to grow up to be family-oriented, and these bonds of closeness start forming early in life. Here are Tutor Doctor's strategies to help foster a strong relationship with your children.
1) Make “family time” a regular occurrence. Spending time or eating dinner together as a family, conversing about your days, and providing feedback to one another is crucial to forming tight family bonds. Kids that grow up with these experiences are likely to hold family values in high regard later in life. In addition, family time lets your kids know that you have an active interest in their lives – whether it's about what they learned in school, where they went shopping, or who they hung out with over the weekend – asking these questions shows your kids that you genuinely care about their daily lives, friendships, interests, etc. Family vacations are also a great way to make lasting memories with each other!
2) Encourage them to pursue their interests, even if you think it's only temporary. As we all know, kids go through different phases while growing up, and their interests don't always remain constant. Despite this, we recommend encouraging whatever it is your child is “into” at the time, even if you suspect it will be a fleeting interest. For instance – many kids take an interest in musical instruments, and it's a common sight to see students walking around with band equipment at school. Although most of these students probably aren't going to end up pursuing music as a professional career, that's not really what it's about. Learning to play the trumpet is a life experience! When our kids are motivated to learn something, we want to encourage whatever that interest might be. What's important is that life experiences like these show your kids they can accomplish goals they work towards, which instills self confidence – and furthermore, they will always remember their parent supported them in such endeavors.
3) Always give positive reinforcement. As we always say here at Tutor Doctor, always stick to positive reinforcement. Punishment for negative behavior is not an effective motivator, nor is it a lasting solution for behavioral problems. It's always better to communicate with your children, hear them out, and encourage them in the right direction using praise and positive reinforcement.
4) Give them their own responsibilities. Although kids might complain, chores are actually good for them! Small tasks around the house (like keeping their room clean or mowing the lawn) let your children know they are a member of the family that is expected to contribute. In many ways, having a “role” helps with family cohesiveness. Plus, small responsibilities are a great way to prepare your kids for later in life when they have much larger responsibilities to attend to.
5) Allow them their own freedoms. Although we always want to make sure our kids are safe, it's healthy to give them their own freedoms. Depending on their age, letting your kids have their own time is extremely important. We need to respect our kids' privacy, and remember that it's important for them to have a space to be alone (like their bedroom). Let your kids prove they can be responsible with freedoms – whether it's the opportunity to go to the mall with their friends, or stay overnight at a friend's house to play video games – we want to show our kids that we trust them. This mentality will help to teach your kids to be honest and make responsible choices later in life.