How to Strengthen Parent-Child Relationships

Strengthening the parent-child relationships requires work and effort. Parenting is a tough job, but by maintaining a close relationship and open communication with children, parents can stay connected to them during all stages of life.

Further, a strong parent-child connection actually makes parenting easier, since children who feel more connected to their parents are more inclined to listen, help and follow directions. Children who feel connected also are more willing to talk to their parents about problems with friends or in school. Here are 10 ways to deepen bonds between parents and children.

Tell Your Children You Love Them

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Tell children you love them every day, no matter their age. Even on trying days or after disagreements, parents should make sure children know that although you did not like their behavior, you love them unconditionally.

Conflict is the most important time for parents to communicate their love to their children. A simple "I love you" does loads to strengthen relationships.

Play With Your Children

The key is to really get down on the floor and play with your children. Play with dolls, balls, or board games or sing songs. It does not matter what you play, just enjoy each other and commit to giving your undivided attention.

Let your kids see your silly side. Older kids enjoy cards, chess, and computer games, while younger ones have fun playing any game with parents.

Establish a Special Name or Code Word

Create a special name for your child that is positive or a secret code word that you can use with each other. Use the name as a simple reinforcement of your love. The code word can be used to extract a child from an uncomfortable situation (such as a sleepover that is not going well) without causing undue embarrassment to the child.

Develop and Maintain Bedtime Rituals

Reading bedtime books or telling stories to children creates lifelong rituals. Bedtime is a separation and creating a ritual makes kids feel safer. Bedtime may also be the only time working parents share with their kids; make it calm and enjoyable.

Once children start reading, have them read a page, chapter, or short book to you. Even most teenagers still enjoy the ritual of being told goodnight in a special way by a parent.

Teach Your Kids About Faith

Teach your child about your faith and beliefs. Tell them what you believe and why. Allow time for your child to ask questions and answer them honestly. Reinforce those teachings often.

Let Your Children Help You

Parents sometimes inadvertently miss out on opportunities for closeness by not allowing their child to help them with various tasks and chores. Unloading groceries after going to the store is a good example of something that children of most ages can and should assist with.

Children feel powerful when they help. Children can also help by giving opinions. Asking a child which shoes look better with your dress lets them know you value their opinion. Of course, if you ask, be prepared to accept and live with the child's choice.

Eat Meals As a Family

You've heard this before, and it really is important! Eating together sets the stage for conversation and sharing. Turn the TV off, and don't rush through a meal. When schedules permit, really talk and enjoy one another.

Meals can become a quality time remembered by young and old alike.

Seek Out One-On-One Opportunities

Some parents have special nights or standing dates with their children to create one-on-one opportunities. Whether it is a walk around the neighborhood, a special trip to a playground or just an at-home movie night with the two of you, it is important to celebrate each child individually. Although this is more of a challenge for parents of several children, it is achievable.

Respect Children's Choices

You don't have to like your child's mismatched shirt and shorts or love how your child has placed pictures in their room. However, it is important to respect those choices.

Children reach out for independence at a young age, and parents can help to foster those decision-making skills by being supportive and even looking the other way on occasion. After all, it really is OK if a child goes to daycare with a striped green shirt and pink plaid shorts.

Make Them a Priority in Your Life

Your children need to know that you believe they are a priority in your life. Children can observe excessive stress and notice when they feel you are not paying them attention. Sometimes, part of parenthood is not worrying about the small stuff and enjoying your children. They grow up so fast, and every day is special. Take advantage of your precious time together while you have it.

7 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Robin McClure
 Robin McClure is a public school administrator and author of 6 parenting books.