Today I will be discussing what I believe are the 6 key things you need to know to create fantastic relationships with your children. Some of the dads that I work with have identified this as an area that is crucial for them right now. They have also said that they worry about their relationships with their children in the future. I would like to outline what I believe are the 6 most important areas to focus on to help you not only improve the relationships you have with your children but to also help connect with them in the way that you have only ever dreamed of.
1. Your behaviour
Most of us at some stage have been guilty of looking at our relationships with our children and wondering what we can get our kids to change about themselves to improve the situation. The truth is, our kids will improve as we improve and our relationship with them will improve as a result. How are you reacting to your wife and kids? When you are at home, and particularly in the evening after a long day at work, what is your behaviour and mood like? Is it warm & encouraging or frustrated, impatient and maybe even a little aggressive? Is it relaxed or does your family walk on egg shells?
You can directly impact atmosphere in the house and your relationships with your children by consciously adopting the mood and mindset that you want. Your relationships with your children will thrive when you can spend the majority of your time with them modelling positive, calm and kind behaviour. They feed off you body language and the tone of your voice more that anything. When you have kindness in your eyes and voice, they will be so much more inclined to want to spend time with you, and far more agreeable when you need them to follow some instructions. You will have less time fighting and there will be far less frustration from them and you. There will me more smiles and more willingness to cooperate. Upgrading your mindset is often the first step to improving your relationships.
2. Their behaviour:
Your children will not always act in a way that you would consider acceptable. It is human nature for them to test the boundaries and see how far they can push things. At times it can feel like they have no regard for your directions, the more they ignore you the worse you react and things quickly spiral into a situation neither you or they are happy with. You end up speaking to each other aggressively and you can be left wondering how much damage you are doing to your relationships with your children.
Even though they push the boundaries, most kids actually prefer to have boundaries set for them. One of the best ways I have found to create boundaries that my children will know and understand is to have clear benefits and consequences in any given situation. Rather than having a long list of rules, make it clear to your children that in nearly every situation they have a choice. Each choice has a benefit or a consequence. For example, they brush their teeth when asked, they get more reading time. If they don’t, then they miss out on a treat the next night. They’ll quickly get the hang of it. I agree that some rules are very important, however I would suggest that you keep them to a minimum. “Respect for each other and each others property” would be one such rule.
Children aren’t inherently naughty. Your children’s behaviour can be the best indicator of what needs they have at any given time. If they are in the mood where they have no regard for rules, benefits of consequences, you can guarantee that not only is there a need not being met, but that it is having a large effect on their lives. Ask yourself, what it their behaviour telling me. Do they need attention, a hug, a chance to unload some difficult emotions, or something else? If you can read those cues and meet their particular need, you will be taking giant strides toward fantastic relationships with your children.
3. Focus on connection:
Whenever you feel like your relationship with your child is not where you would like it to be, a good idea is to focus on creating a loving connection with them:
– Have love and kindness in your eyes, your body language and your voice.
– Get down to their level so you are seeing eye to eye and if appropriate , have a big smile on your face.
– Listen to them. Take a moment to stop bombarding them with instructions and reprimands and find out what they need. And be an active listener, repeat back what they say so they are 100% clear that you heard them.
– Kill with kindness – always think love and encouragement when talking to them.
– Catch them doing the right thing and praise them for it rather than constantly telling them what they aren’t doing well.
Educate don’t berate – they are only kids. They want and need your guidance.
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