Parenting Vivian | 28 Feb 2011 09:39 pm

Helping Children With Strong Family Relationships

Building a positive and healthy relationship between parent and child is one that requires work and effort to make it strong and successful. Parenting is a tough and exhausting job, and maintaining close relationships and open communication helps to ensure parents and their children stay connected through all ages and stages of development.

The importance of strong, healthy bonds between parent and child cannot be overstated, because these bonds serve as the foundation upon which all other life relationships are formed. If a child doesn’t learn how to connect emotionally with a parent or other caregiver, that child will probably encounter difficulty in connecting to people in all sorts of relationships for the rest of his or her life.

Temperament plays a significant part in a child’s efforts to reach out to other people or responding to others efforts at connection. It’s helpful for parents to understand the balance of how temperament affects emotional bonding and efforts to impact emotional connection with healthy authoritative parenting. Consciously or not, parents teach their children about relationships through interaction and example.

Teaching children about the value of healthy relationships will help them as the move into the middle school and high school years. At this age, when it comes to the complex tasks of negotiating peer relationships (friendships, cliques, dating, etc.), children will draw from what they have been taught to try to negotiate and survive. Not knowing how to emotionally connect may cause difficulties, ranging from fleeting feelings of sadness and/or alienation to teen depression.

Also, parent-child bonds can benefit tremendously from rituals of emotional healing. What signals does your family typically use when one or more of you is ready to negotiate a cease-fire and start repairing hurt feelings? Are there words or gestures that everyone understands to mean “I’m sorry” “Let’s talk” or “I forgive you”? Gestures of apology might be a hug, or a few minutes together in a rocking chair. These small gestures go a long way in building healthy relationships.

Focusing on family relationships is an investment into the foundation and paradigm of your child’s future relationships as well.

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