How to Develop a Healthy, Positive Relationship With Kids
Talk And Listen
DO : Make it a habit to ask your children about their day, friends, school, homework, hopes, fears, dreams, and opinions.
Studies indicate that children who feel their parents care about their personal and emotional lives grow up to be much happier adults because their need to be heard has been consistently addressed and satisfied.
This leads to increased confidence, trust, and the ability to deal with life's more difficult challenges without succumbing to depression, fear, and anxiety.
DON'T : Don't try to fool your child into thinking you're paying attention when you're otherwise occupied. If you don't have time to talk or listen at any given moment, briefly stop what you're doing and ask if everything is all right. If there's something's amiss, deal with the issue at once - nothing is more important that the well-being of your child. If the conversation can wait, calmly explain that you can't give your child the full attention he or she deserves right now, but that you'd love to talk and will make ample time for communication later in the day.
It is imperative that you keep this promise. If you do not, your child may soon give up all attempts to speak to you and begin internalizing what could well be negative emotions or experiences - or worse, seek attention from peers who are themselves too young to provide proper guidance and understanding.
Laugh And Play
DO : Laugh and play often and openly around your children. By teaching them that life is full of joy and humor, you'll help them develop a sense of levity and spiritual lightness that will be difficult to acquire later in life. Showing your children that being grown up and dealing with responsibilities and things like grief, debt, illness, relationship issues, and work-related troubles doesn't have to signal an end to all happiness gives them faith in the resilience of the human spirit and ensures that they'll never forget to smile themselves.
DON'T : Never mistake work for play. You may think your child is having a ball at soccer practice or Little League, but unless he enjoys it, it's not so much fun as it is a chore to get done with. Talk to your children, and make sure to let them know that they aren't obligated to like whatever activities you've chosen for them. Your dreams of raising the next Jordan may not come true, but your child will be much happier - and far less likely to become a push-over in adulthood.
Share Something You Love With Your Child
Teach What You Know
This isn't rocket science - unless, of course, you ARE a rocket scientist and can teach your children about neat things like ion-propulsion engines, acceleration, and gravitational spin. In which case, hey, lucky kids!
Remember: You are your child's first, most frequently available, and most trusted source of knowledge, so make sure to answer his questions and share every tidbit of information you've picked up over decades of learning in a way that'll broaden his horizons, nourish his inquisitive nature, and perhaps even help him choose a suitable career. Whether you're a home-maker, florist, professor of literature, or autodidact fascinated by astronomy and particle physics doesn't matter - children are sponges for knowledge, so they'll appreciate whatever you can teach.
You don't have to stop at what you already know, of course. When you don't know the answer to a question, do some research together, and take this opportunity to demonstrate ways to find reliable information. This won't just teach your child how to locate credible sources and scour them for useful data, but also show her that you love learning just as much as she does. In this way, something as simple as a shared interest in science, baking bread, or gardening can create a deeper, more meaningful bond between parent and child.
Establish Firm Boundaries
Your children should understand that there are rules for proper conduct whether you're in your home or out of it. To that end, make sure that you establish a clear set of guidelines that covers everything from bedtime to how to settle an argument over who gets the last marshmallow (I like to call them guidelines because the term seems to invite less rebellion, especially from teens).
If your guidelines aren't followed, you should be quick, 100% consistent, and 100% consequent in meting out age-appropriate punishment; this could be anything from a stern reprimand to taking away certain privileges.
Whatever punishment you choose, take a few moments to explain to your child why she is being punished, how you expect her behavior to change, and what exactly you plan to do, such as taking away her television for three days, canceling her slumber party, or cutting her allowance until she improves her attitude.
With that in mind: Kids are incredibly fast learners, and they know your weak spots (you better believe it) so don't fall for the same old tricks you tried on your parents when you were small. "Waaaaaaaaa! I'll never do it again! I swear, mom! Don't you believe me? I thought you said I was good! Can't I watch cartoons if I say sorry and really, really, really, really mean it?" should never sway you. Be firm. If you let them diminish your authority while they're still little enough to consider a pound of sugar on toast pure heaven, their teens will be anything but.
Lead By Example
As a parent, you should be your child's number one role model. Children mimic what they see, so if you want your son to grow into a moral, happy, healthy adult, you must lead by example and be a moral, happy, healthy adult yourself. That includes making healthy choices, being responsible and accountable, holding yourself to the highest possible standard of excellence in all areas of your life, honoring your debts, keeping your promises, dealing with conflict in a way that is healthy, mature, and peaceful, respecting yourself and others, having faith, and showing compassion, kindness, and good will to human beings and animals alike.
Remember: A child is a blank canvas. Everything you say and do leaves traces of color on his or her being. It's up to you to make sure that there is more light than darkness, and more color than shadow when your part is done.
Encourage Talent And Creativity
I've met hundreds of children in my life, and not one of them was exactly like any other. Some children love to paint, while others hate it. Some don't enjoy pop music, but perk up every time they spot a classical album in grandma's record drawer. And others still may not be the smartest when it comes to spelling and reading, but can solve complex quadratic equations with the ease of a practiced mathematician. Whatever your child's talent, nourish it, and ask questions so he feels that you're interested in and value his individuality.
Just as important to your child's development is to nurture and encourage her unique brand of creativity. If your daughter has an imaginary friend, or your son talks to the apricot tree in the back yard because he can hear the tree talk back, don't make fun or call them crazy. To a child, reality truly is as flexible a concept as dreaming is to an adult. Creativity is the key to advanced thinking - imagine where we'd be if Einstein had never imagined riding a beam of light!