To build a happy parent-child relationship is a herculean task. We do everything possible, from trying various parenting hacks to attending positive parenting workshops. But the truth is there are no “one-size fits all” when it comes to parenting. We adapt and evolve as our children grow. Everyday parenting demands a better version of us and as our children grow, so do the challenges. Parenting is the most fulfilling, yet frustrating job that we will ever have. It’s not at all easy to raise a child, especially in modern family life.
Different Stages of a child
Babies (3-12 months)
Your bond with and your attachment to your baby is about the things you do together, and the way you make your baby feel. You can form initial bonding with your kid by
- responding to your baby’s needs for food, sleep, clean nappies and so on
- showing him warmth and love
- playing with him
- talking, reading or singing to him
- smiling, touching, or cuddling him.
All these things help build connections with your baby’s brain. It will help them feel that the world is a safe place and will help them become more confident to explore the world.
Toddlers (1-3 years)
When your child becomes a toddler, it’s time for you to teach them how to step into society. The focus is on shaping the child’s behaviour and helping them to socialize. It is also the age when the child starts feeling a sense of belongingness.
Different ways of bonding in this stage involves:
- Paying a lot of Positive Attention.
- Doing things together (playing, reading, doing fun activities).
- Understand your child. For eg: If your toddler is less sociable it is better to stay at home instead of going out.
- Understand his emotions and teach him how to behave. For eg: If the baby shows anger by throwing things around, talk to him instead of yelling or punishing.
- Share your meals together, it makes them feel a part of the family.
- Get your toddler to decide for himself, such as the dress he wants to wear today or a toy he wants to play.
- Also, try making him comfortable being away from you. Help him bond with other people as they are soon going to be admitted to a playschool.
Pre-School (3-5 years)
During this stage, your child is going through a lot of changes. He/She is building confidence and self-esteem, developing language and social skills. As a result, your relationship might also change.
- You will start to have longer conversations with your child. Talk to them, make them feel that they can always come up to you.
- Start taking your child’s question seriously. They might have a lot of “what, why, how, when”. Take your time and give real answers to them. They are at their growing stage and answering them will enhance their curiosity, also building trust and confidence in you. Be patient with your toddler’s questions and encourage his interests.
- At this stage, they will start showing emotions clearly, they are developing their emotional skills. Channel them into something positive.
- Encourage your child to help you around the house. This will enable you both to spend more time and will help them feel that you trust them.
- Be a “Patient Listener”. A preschooler has a lot to talk about, be it his new friends or his teacher or randomly anything. They talk a lot and you have to actively listen, or else they would feel ignored.
School-Age (5-8 years)
Your child will start feeling independent once he/she starts attending school. And your role as a parent is as important as ever. But, he/she still needs you because they might be easily embarrassed, self-conscious and even self-critical, so he’ll need your help to focus on the things he does well.
- Make sure your child knows that you’re always there for him/her.
- Make time to share things you both enjoy. Now, you might have very little time but make good use of it. Spending time with them will let you know their interests, likes, and dislikes.
- might be easily embarrassed, self-conscious, and even self-critical, so he’ll need your help to focus on the things he does well. If you encourage open communication now, your child learns that he can always talk to you.
- Set some family rules. Teach her/him simple manners like saying please, thank you, and sorry. Teach her/him what behaviour he/she is expected to show and what is not.
- Keep up family rituals like birthday celebrations, family movie nights or bike rides on the weekend. Rituals create shared memories and build family relationships and bonds.
- Never compare your child with anyone else. Never!
Pre-teens (9-12 years)
Family relationships change during adolescence, but they tend to stay strong right through these years. In fact, your child needs your family’s love and support as much as she did when she was younger. At the same time, your child will want more privacy and more personal space as he gets older. This doesn’t necessarily mean your child has something to hide. It’s just a natural part of adolescence.
- Do simple, kind things – a pat on the back, a hug, or a knock on the door before entering your child’s bedroom.
- Listening and communicating is the most important tool at this age. Listen to them and try to understand without judging.
- You’ll have to negotiate with your child on certain things. It’s okay, it is part of their growing up.
- Sometimes, even negotiation fails and you’ll have conflict. Dealing with conflict effectively can make your relationship with your child stronger.
- Tackling difficult conversations together is a sign that you and your child have a healthy relationship. And it also helps to keep your relationship with your child close and trusting.
- Getting to know your child’s friends shows your child you understand how important these friendships are. One way to do this is by encouraging your child to have friends over and giving them a space in your home.
- This is the time when your child may want to get into a romantic relationship. Talk with them whether or not it is the time to get into one. If they are interested, you might talk to them about behavior, ground rules, and the consequences of breaking them.
- Talk to them about “Frenemies”. Make sure your child doesn’t get into a wrong peer group but make sure you don’t nag in always.
Teens (13-18 years)
Teenage is a turbulent and vulnerable phase, which brings about physical and psychological changes in the child. Parents should acknowledge and understand their teen’s needs, support them, and give them the freedom they need without being overly controlling. Many people think that families become less important to children as they move into their teenage years. But your child needs your family and the support it offers as much as she did when she was younger.
- Family meals – Try to have meals together at least once in a day. Get everyone to talk, what is happening in their lives. If you encourage everyone to have a say, no-one will feel they’re being put on the spot to talk.
- Family outings – A relaxing holiday or weekend away together as a family can also build togetherness. Don’t let your child feel that his/her family has no time for getting together and outings as that will make him rely more on his friends for spending his free time while snatching away the time he/she gets with you.
- Make him feel good- Celebrate his accomplishments. Don’t make him feel like he is neglected. At this age, you have to attend to your child more than ever. They are going through emotional instability, they can easily get depressed.
- Handover some household responsibilities- This will help them learn responsibility. They will feel like they are also making a contribution to the family.
- Family rules- Every family should have certain rules, not rigid one though. They help your child know what standards apply in your family, and what will happen if she/he pushes the boundaries.
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.