Building good parent-child relationships

June 8th, 2017

Positive parent-child relationships are important for all areas of children’s development. By being in the moment, spending quality time and showing warmth, care and respect, you can strengthen your relationship with your child.

Good parent-child relationships: why they’re important

Children’s most important early relationships are with parents.

Positive parent-child relationships help children learn about the world – whether the world is safe and secure, whether they’re loved, who loves them, what happens when they cry, laugh or make a face, and much more.

These relationships affect all areas of children’s development.

You can build a positive parent-child relationship by:

  • being in the moment with your child
  • spending quality time with your child
  • creating a caring environment of trust and respect.

There’s no formula for getting your parent-child relationship right, and there’ll be times when it’s hard to relate to your child the way you want to. But if you keep working on improving your relationship over time, your child will feel loved and secure.

How being in the moment helps parent-child relationships

Being in the moment is about tuning in and thinking about what’s going on with your child. It shows your child that you care about the things that matter to him, which is the basis for a strong relationship.

Here are some ideas for being in the moment with your child:

  • Show acceptance, let your child be, and try not to give directions all the time. If your child wants to pretend the building blocks are people, that’s OK. You don’t have to get her to use them the ‘right’ way.
  • Notice what your child is doing and comment or encourage it. For example, ‘Are the big blue blocks the shopkeepers? And is the little red block doing the shopping? What’s she buying?’.
  • Listen to your child and try to tune in to what he’s really saying. For example, if he’s telling you a long story about lots of things that happened during the day, he might really be saying that he likes his new teacher or that he’s in a good mood.
  • Think about what your child’s behaviour is telling you, which will give you clues to what she really needs. For example, if your teenage child is hanging around in the kitchen and not talking much, she might just want to be close to you. You could give her a hug or let her help with the cooking, without needing to talk.

Part of being in the moment with your child is giving him the opportunity to take the lead sometimes. For example:

  • When you’re playing with your younger child, play what she wants to play, imitate her and really have fun together.
  • Let an older child take the lead by supporting his ideas – for example, say yes if he decides to plan a family meal.
  • When your child expresses an opinion, use the conversation as a way to learn more about what she thinks and feels.