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Monday, 2 July 2018

Suggestions on how to build trust, relationship and respect with your child.


During the school holiday life is usually calmer. This is a great opportunity to connect with your kids.




Even though you may love the people closest to you with all your heart, can relationships with them be a lot of work. Sometimes you merely don’t spend enough time with each other, because there simply isn’t a second to spare. On the other hand, you can spend an entire day in someone’s presence and be so occupied with everything else that at the end of the day you haven’t had a single constructive conversation with each other. You work, you have to attend meetings, get your children to school on time because they write exams... You also have to get on that treadmill - something you’ve been putting off for too long. At some point during the day you have to get groceries and decide what to make for dinner…

Does it sound familiar? Of course it does!
To be honest, it is quite the norm in every modern household. There is nothing wrong with being busy. Unfortunately, it is unhealthy when these acts become more important than the people. When family relationships are neglected it is usually the children that feels disconnected from you the most. You may not immediately realise how it affects them, since they have friends and take part in extracurricular activities, but sooner or later the cracks will start to appear. Unfortunately it can also impact their performance in school.

Children crave your attention, love and respect. That is why it is important to speak with them and let them know that you care about them during these times. Luckily life has its cycles and things won’t always be like this every day. There is no better time than to spend a little bit of quality time with your children during the school holidays. They will be less stressed and more likely to talk openly with you.


In this article we will discuss 10 ways you can connect with your children:

 

1. Tell them how much you love them.

2. Understand where you are at in your relationship.

3. Listen attentively and speak only when spoken to.

4. Understand what makes your children “tick”.

5. Make their dreams your own.

6. Plan a special day for your children.

7. Nothing brings people together like good food.

8. Have a family game day/night.

9. Meet their friends.

10. Find your inner-child.



1. Tell them how much you love them.


‘I love you.” These 3 simple words are very obvious, but probably the most import words any parent can say to their child. Telling your children in words that you love them is a verbal confirmation that you care. Children that feel loved by their parents will have a strong and lasting relationship with them, because they will feel safe and secure in their presence. This is very important as they will be open and forthcoming when things are going well or not so well in their lives. Children that have a strong bond with their parents will tell them when they are being bullied or in harm. It is crucial to win your children’s trust and let them know that you are there for them. Unconditional love from a parent also directly affects children’s confidence, self-esteem, health and overall happiness. A study conducted by Duke UniversityMedical School that involved 500 people over a span of 30+ years found that when mothers displayed affection toward their children from infancy, they grew up to into adults that were happier, less anxious and less likely to display psychosomatic symptoms. The researchers concluded that oxytocin, a chemical secreted by the brain during moments of closeness between parent and child, is responsible for the positive effects. Because of this, it is not only advised to tell your children you love them, but to really show it.


2. Understand where you are at in your relationship.


In order to have a great relationship with your children, you have to take a step back and analyse where you are currently at. Do you enjoy spending quality time together regularly? Do you take part in fun activities and have meaningful conversations? Do you hardly see each other and speak only occasionally? Do they behave differently when they are around you? There are many determining factors (such as their age, household arrangement, your work schedule, personalities, mutual interests etc.) that influence the type of relationship and bond you and your children have. It also depends from child to child. Sometimes kids and teenagers can be difficult to understand. Some might seem distant no matter what you do. Don’t press them too hard when they don’t open up immediately. You should never give up on them. Let them know you are there and love them dearly. They will eventually get around to asking your advice should they need it. If they don’t behave properly you have to let them know that you discipline them because you love them. Be transparent about your actions and open your heart to them. Ask them what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong. Aim to make some changes if it is necessary. They will eventually act the same toward you.


3. Listen attentively and speak only when spoken to.


For some children it might be a big deal to say something about how they truly feel. It is not because they don’t trust you. It may simply be because they are still unsure about their own thoughts and feelings. Every person is unique and therefore every relationship is unique. Just as soon as you think you understand someone you understand nothing about them at all. The reason is because everyone changes. You should know. You aren’t the same person now as when you were their age; when you went to university; got married or when they were born. You grow as a person with the passing of time. Children change especially. They literally transform right in front of your eyes. They don’t just change physically, but mentally also. Sometimes these experiences can be uncomfortable. None the less. They learn new things every day and experience many emotions as they go through life. You have gone through many growth processes and have learned how to cope with life, but remember that everything is new to them.

Encourage them to tell you about what they learned in class. You may even learn something new. Encourage them to tell jokes or sing out loud. Ask them questions. When they really want to talk to someone about their feelings they would recognise you and their home as a safe environment. Allow them to speak and think for themselves. Often times they already know what the next steps are to solve a problem, they just need to verbalise their plan of action. They also want confirmation that you are standing right behind them and will catch them when they fall. Use your discretion as a parent when to intervene and when to stand back. Mistakes can also be good, because they learn from it.

If you see that they want to talk to you, make a special appointment with them. Take a few moments out of your day to listen to what they have to say. They will appreciate it. Also, remember that it takes time to build trust and relationship. You will probably need more than one sitting to help them figure things out. You shouldn’t just give your opinion or an ultimatum and walk away - especially not with rebellious teens. Allow them to hear your advice and come to their own conclusions. Tell them that you support them and are proud of them.


4. Understand what makes your children “tick”.


Every child is unique. This means that even if you share DNA, you can differ vastly from your each other – physically, mentally and/or emotionally. It is your responsibility as a parent to find out what makes them “tick”. What interests, viewpoints and personality traits do you share, and how do you differ? Start to build a relationship with them from commonalities and work your way up to the areas that are foreign to you. The easiest way to find out how different or alike you are is to simply try out different things together. Open your children’s eyes to see the world. Help them explore and discover new things. Visit places and go to events. Take note on what they like and what not. Do something together that is outside both of your comfort zones. This will show your child that you are open to new things.

Another great way to help them discover things that can potentially makes them “tick” is to read together about a number of different topics. Read bedtime stories, the news, history books etc. It is the safest and cheapest way to “travel” with your mind to different places. Discuss the things you read afterward.

It is important to love your child unconditionally even if you don’t always think alike or understand them. Just let them know that you care about the things that make them happy, because if they are happy so are you.


5. Make their dreams your own.


“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.” ~ Christopher Reeve. Dreams are precious. It is important for children to be allowed to dream up things that are bigger than all of us. The dreams that are formed in a young child’s mind can grow into a powerful desire to improve our lives. Dreams influence our thoughts, the tools we use, the architecture we build and ultimately the way we shape our world. As a parent you should always encourage your children to use their imagination; to dream up fantastical things and never to lose their enthusiasm for the discovering of new things. It is far more advisable to ask your children what difference they would like to make in the world, or what problem they would like to solve, than to ask them what occupation they want to have when they grow up. Children’s minds won’t expand if they are forced to be boxed in and only learn and think in a certain way that is expected of them.

Less than 60 years ago it would have seem an impossible occupation to become an astronaut. Fortunately dreamers have set out to go into space. With incredibly hard work and research in astronomy, physics, aerodynamics, engineering, and computer fields they have actually made that dream a reality. On April 12, 1961, Russian astronaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space. The lesson to take way is that it is important to understand your child. Support them in everything they do, no matter how absurd it sounds right now. They might just overcome the impossible! You don’t have to spend all of your money, time and energy on their “extravagant” projects, but it will be enough for them to know that you support them. Buy some books for them on a particular topic that fascinates them. Try to find a tutor or coach to help them get on track.


6. Plan a special day for your children.


There is nothing more fun and rewarding than to spend a day with your children. We know, it isn’t always possible with a demanding work schedule, but every once in a while you have to schedule a time and date with them. Chances are you both need some time off and to reconnect. Ask them in advance where they would like to go. If you know them really well you can surprise them. Just make sure they have some free time. The day and activity will depend entirely on you and your child. It can be as adventurous or relaxing as you want it to be. You have a wealth of options to choose from in our blog article “18Interesting places for South African learners to visit during the schoolholidays”.


7. Nothing brings people together like good food.


There is certainly a lot of truth in the saying “Good food brings people together”. Everyone has to eat, so why not make something special of it? Everyone can help out in the kitchen. Making a delicious meal together is a lot of fun. The scents, aromas and textures of food and spices can be very therapeutic. Everyone will start to relax and enjoy each other’s company. Enjoy your meal together at the dinner table – not in front of the TV. Sitting down at the table encourages eye contact, which leads to conversation. Ask your children how their day was and tell them about yours. Discuss different topics. Chef John Besh said it best: “Growing up, I learned life’s important lessons at the dinner table”.


8. Have a family game day/night.


Everyone loves a good game. Games are an excellent choice to start building relationship with your children. Games should be light-hearted, playful and relieve stress. When you play games with your children you will learn more about their personalities. Games also allow you the opportunity to teach new things to your children, including valuable life-lessons. Competition is good - the whole purpose of games is to encourage the players to perform their best, but try to keep destructive rivalry to a minimum – especially between siblings.

Ideas for games include:
  • Board games such as Chess, Monopoly, 30 Seconds, Scrabble etc.
  • Card games such as Uno
  • Hide and Seek
  • Ball games such as soccer, rugby, cricket, hockey, netball, basketball etc.
  • Wrestling
  • Imaginative play
  • Pillow fights



9. Meet their friends.


Meeting your child’s friends can be a great way for you to learn more about your own child. Every child should have at least one friend and try to make more friends. As a parent you are encouraged to take interest in their friends. Friendships help your own child learn more about relationships and other people. Let your child know that his or her friends are welcome in your house. Review some “house rules” beforehand. Make it known to your child, the friend and his or her parent/guardian that you will be present. Make it an enjoyable experience for their friends. Everyone should spend some quality time together. You can also choose to take your child and their friends (with permission of their parents) to a fun activity, such as seeing a movie or having an ice-cream. You will soon find out what their mutual interests are and or why they are friends. By reaching out to your children’s friends, they will realise that you care about them.


10. Find your inner-child.


The best way to understand your child is to reflect back to the time when you were young. Remember what it meant to you to gaze at the stars; what it meant to wander around in amazement at the zoo; what it felt like running as fast as you can down the street; what it meant to win your first gold medal... Once you have been exactly where they are now. Sure, the world is slightly different now compared to what it might have been then, but the core of what it means to be a child will always remain the same. All children are filled with hope and wonderment - sometimes even a little bit of harmless mischief, but they will always have the same need for love and acceptance from a parent.


Teach your children the important lessons you have learned along the way. Have the relationship with your children that you have had or wanted to have with your parents as a child. Time flies by incredibly fast. Don’t allow life’s unpredictability and demands interfere with your relationships in a way that you become strangers to each other. If you do, this wonderful opportunity to have a great, meaningful and lasting relationship with your children will pass you by. Once your relationships are no longer there, everything else that you’ve been working for won’t matter much in anyway. Take this holiday to (re)connect with them and to get to know them better – even if you see them every day. You won’t regret it.

Let us know how you will be spending quality time with your children.