In a recent poll on teenagers, Family Ties Key to Youth Happiness, 73 percent of 1,280 people ages 13 and 24— said their relationship with their parents makes them happy.
73 percent is a huge number. And if parents just do this one right, the world is your oyster, as they say.
It makes our life simpler, don’t you agree? Instead of thousands, you now only have to focus your parenting effort on just one thing: Creating a happy relationship with your child.
After all, who doesn’t want a happy child?
With this alone, it can help solve many social problems caused by broken families such as runaway teens, child depression, and so on.
But the big question is how? How do we create a close family relationship? Frankly, it’s no secret. Spending time with family is the only way.
That said, please don’t let your maid or nanny do the job for you. As a parent, you have to do it yourself, hands on.
Here’s a list bonding ideas that can help you foster a happy and closer family relationship with your child. By no means it’s an exhaustive list, so feel free to add.
Also keep in mind that this process takes time. Don’t expect that you can do wonders with your relationship with your child just by spending one night with him.
- Have a date. Fix a day of the week for your family. If you do this, every member of the family knows that no other activities to be scheduled for this time slot. It’s specially reserved for the family. Also, it removes the need to fix appointments if you family chooses to meet up.
- Private time. As a parent, you should spend private time with your child, one to one. Just be together, share your day, and exchange thoughts on certain issues. It could be a few minutes session.
- Super fast bonding techniques. No time for building parent-child relationship? Why not try these 5 minutes or less bonding activities. My daughter loves Rock-Paper-Scissors game very much.
- Listen and acknowledge the feelings, good and bad. Whether your child comes running home with exciting news from school, or sad news that he lost football match, be there for him. Just listen and acknowledge their feelings. Be objective and don’t give comments unless being asked. Don’t make assumptions by their expressions and behaviors. Make sure everything is fine and let him know that you’re always there for him, no matter what happens.
- Play together. Family bonding gets closer through play. There are many activities you can do with your child. Some could be as simple as watching the birds in the garden. Here’s a list of 70 toddler games for bonding.
- Take note of their interests. Different children have different interests. Some good at singing. Some good in games. Whatever it is, observe and take note of your child’s interest and guide him to fully utilize his talents by signing up for classes or hire him a coach. By doing this, your child knows that you care for him. Please don’t ask your child to be a doctor if he scares the hell out of sighting bloods.
- Have dinner together. Make it a point for your family to have dinner together every night. It’s good to get together and to catch up with each other. No one should be spared except with a valid reason. Traditional Asian families still practice this.
- Weekend trips. Have a weekend trip to somewhere out of town. If your family loves food, go to a nearby town to hunt for food. It’s fun to explore new places with your family. And also to get away from places you already know by heart, once in a while. If you love nature, use weekends to visit waterfalls, mountains, beaches, and jungles. Or you can do adventure sports with your family.
- Don’t over-control. This is a tricky issue. But you have to strike a balance between control and freedom. Don’t be a helicopter parent by keeping tab on your child 24/7. Give freedom to your child to do what he wants, to make decisions on his own and to go where he wants to go. Offer them suggestions, but without controlling their ideas and behaviors. Over-control creates rebellious children, especially those who seek freedom and don’t like to be controlled. Many teens run away from home because they feel that they don’t have freedom at home.
- Trust, love and respect. Shower your child with love and affection. Trust your child that he can make the best decisions for himself. Respect your child for the decisions he makes. Don’t force him to follow your way. You can only guide them. Final decisions should come from your child. Sometimes, it’s better for your child to make mistakes if you want him to drive home a powerful lesson.
- Share your side of your story. Many parents tend to ask too many questions to their child and forget one thing: share your own stories. Why not you take the initiative and share your likes, dislikes, feelings, childhood stories with your child. When I did this, my daughter was very interested to know the other side of me. It’s a good way for your child to get to know you better and what you value.
- Don’t compare. We adults hate it when someone is trying to compare you with others. How would you feel when your wife says this to you: “Kathy’s husband mops floor and he cooks too, what do YOU know?” Furious? But we always do this to our children. I always tell my daughter, “Everyone is different and unique.” So stop comparing your child with other kids. If you compare, you make your child feel bad. Worse, he’s going to try to emulate the person to gain you back – by losing his identity. You shouldn’t compare as your child is the only one in the world and he’s the best.