How to Nurture Your Parent-Child Bond

Like any relationship, the bond between a parent and child can be made stronger with some habits that can be easily incorporated into your everyday routines.


Eating Together

family dinner
Eating dinner together is important for kids' health and development in many surprising ways. Mark Bowden/Getty Images

An impressive body of research has shown a link between regular meals with kids and an increased likelihood of positive developmental benefits such as better health and eating habits; strong mental, emotional, and social skills; improved behavior; and better academic performance.

Even if you can't find time to have dinner together every night, schedule family meals whenever you can, as much as you can. If your weeknights are packed with late hours at the office or extracurricular activities, you can still find solutions, such as having breakfast or snacks together. The key is to make family meals fun, talk about the day, and stay connected with your kids.


Talking About Your Day

Mother cuddling in bed with her children
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Like dinnertime, bedtime is a great opportunity to catch up with your kids about the day. You can ask them questions that will prompt them to answer in detail, like "What was the best part of your day today?" or "What was the funniest thing that happened today?"

Then be sure to talk about your day, and share details like what you were most proud of achieving that day or what problem you may have and how you plan to solve it. By sharing something about yourself, you are showing your child that you value them as a person and feel close enough to confide in them. You also strengthen your bond and show them that they are important to you.


Playing Together

family playing board game
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One of the best ways to bond with your kids is by having fun together. Go outside and ride bikes together or kick around a soccer ball. Or grab a fun family board game (make it an educational one if you wanna find something that'll challenge them cognitively) and encourage them to work on great social skills and good manners, like learning how to be a gracious winner or loser, while you have fun.

The activity doesn't matter as much as the fact that you're doing something fun together. You can make fun crafts, cook favorite meals, bake some treats together, or even watch and then "review" a great kids' movie. Do something that you both enjoy and connect while you're doing it, just as you would with your spouse or a good friend.


Being Respectful and Expecting the Same

child discipline mother son talking
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Kids can sometimes be exasperating, and can certainly make mistakes. But parents should keep in mind that treating kids with respect is as important as disciplining kids. Even if your child has done something that requires you to discipline them, you can speak to them in a calm and loving manner.

Yelling or using corporal punishment have been shown to not only be less effective, but they can harm the quality of your relationship with your child.

Good manners should not be something that you only use outside the home. Remind kids to say "please" and "thank you" and make sure you do the same!

Treating each other with respect and courtesy will not only bring you closer together but will make your home a more pleasant place to live.


Letting the Kids Help

father son washing dishes
Doing chores together is one way to help your son grow into a good man. Getty Images

Kids naturally love to be helpful, and when you give them chores and responsibilities, you boost their self-confidence and make them feel valued.

Tell them how great a job they're doing, and how much you appreciate their help. Not only will it bring you closer together, but it'll help your kids grow into confident and kind people who love helping others.



mother daughter hugging, cuddling
Hugging and cuddling are great ways to strengthen the parent-child bond. JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

Cuddling and hugging is not only a wonderful way to connect with your child and strengthen your parent-child bond, but research suggests that it may even reduce your odds of getting sick. So let your child know how much you love her with lots of hugs throughout the day, and she'll grow up hugging you right back!


Showing Your Child Love Daily

mom and kids laughing on bed
Laughing together is a beautiful way to show your kids you love them every day. Robert Houser/Getty Images

Do little things every day to show your child how much you love them, like writing a note and tucking it into his lunchbox. Planning fun things to do on the weekends and giving your full attention when they're talking, can make a big difference in the quality of your relationship with your child.

Show your child every day how much he means to you and you'll be doing something to strengthen the bond between you and your child and make it lasting and unshakable.

By Katherine Lee
Katherine Lee is a parenting writer and a former editor at Parenting and Working Mother magazines.