As a parent, “Connecting” with your child may be the most important thing you do. When kids feel close to their parents, there is less conflict in the relationship, more trust and more caring. Also, when kids feel secure, they are more likely to share problems, listen to you and follow your advice.
So let’s take a look at 3 of the biggest and deadliest mistakes parents make that cause a break in their relationship with their children, and, then, what to do instead.
1. Ignoring attempts at connecting. When your children talk, ask a question, share good news, pout, get angry, or even tattle what do you do? How you respond can make or break your relationship. Do you ignore them, snap at them to be quiet, keep on with what you were doing and give a slight acknowledgment?
What to do instead. How you react to all the small interactions each day is the secret to creating a close, trusting, sharing relationship. When your child talks to you, stop what you are doing (as often as you can), listen and respond to what they are saying in a positive way. They will feel valued and important and be much more interested in talking with you.
2. Giving evaluative praise: When you tell your child they are awesome over the littlest thing, praise their work as “absolutely the best” or tell they they are so “smart” they might smile and like it at first. But pretty soon children can begin to distrust and blow off your compliments. Sometimes they develop a sense of entitlement, feeling like they shouldn’t have to work for anything at all. They might even become praise junkies doing whatever they can just to get praise.
What to do instead: Specifically describe what your child said or did, and tell the impact, as you see it. This allows your kids to “paint a positive picture of themselves” which builds true self-esteem. It also lets them know what they need to do to be successful in the future. For example, “I enjoyed reading your book report. All your research helped me learn a lot of interesting facts about dinosaurs. I had no idea there were over 700 types of dinosaurs.”
3. Criticizing: There is nothing that can put a wall between you and your child faster than feeling disapproved of by you. It’s especially painful if you attack character like saying “You’re lazy, or irresponsible.”
What to do instead: Respectfully tell your child what they said or did that you found unacceptable, suggest an alternative behavior, explain the benefits of your suggestion, and, when appropriate, ask for action. For example, “You left your dishes on the table, they belong in the dishwasher so they can get clean, please put them there.