Relationship-Building Conversations Between Parents and Children
Relationship-Building Conversations Between Parents and Their Child
As children grow and develop their minds change. The path from childhood to adulthood can be a long and difficult journey, and it is one that many children and teens cannot make without help from their parents or adult caretakers.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with your child throughout each phase of their development will help ensure that they become healthy, capable adults who can look after themselves and positively contribute to the world around them.
One of the best ways to establish and maintain a connection with your child is through relationship-building conversations. These conversations are not about any specific or serious topic, in fact, they are usually mundane in nature, but they serve as an essential foundation for a healthy parent-child relationship.
In this post, we will cover:
- Four ways to set up healthy conversations with your child.
- Seven skills you can practice with your child to improve the quality of your conversations.
Keep reading to learn more about how you can develop a better relationship with your child through simple conversation.
Four Ways to Create Healthy Relationships with Your Child
Childhood and adolescence are times of transition for your children. They are discovering who they are and the person they want to become. A close relationship with their parents is essential during this time to set them on the best path to success.
Conversations with your child form the basis of a healthy relationship. These discussions allow you to listen to them to understand what they want and the struggles they are facing. They also give you a chance to set your expectations and discuss with your child what a healthy and successful life looks like.
Here are four ways you can open yourself up to quality conversations with your child.
Set Up a Safe Space for Conversation
To have quality conversations with your child, you need to set up an environment where they feel safe talking to you about their problems and bringing up their worries. This is easier said than done, as children can be reluctant to discuss difficult subjects with their parents.
To create a safe conversational space:
- Think of your own experiences. Think about what you were going through when you were your child's age. What were your worries and misconceptions? Approach difficult topics by ensuring your child knows they can talk about confusing topics and try to fill them in on the information you did not have when you were their age.
- Find ways to connect the conversation to memories or experiences you both share. Always be sure to look for common ground and real-world experiences to tie your discussions to. Too much information can get lost when framed in hypotheticals and abstracts.
Be a Role Model
Your child may not want to have conversations with you unless you are someone they look up to. Of course, everyone makes mistakes, but it is up to you to set a positive example for your child and demonstrate positive personality traits that your child might wish to copy.
You can set up a healthy conversation by framing topics around positive personality traits that your child admires. Focus on discussing some things that you admire about yourself and encourage your child to do the same. Setting the conversation in a positive light and establishing things you like about one another can go a long way toward setting up conversations in the future.
Pay Attention to Your Body Language
Your body language says a lot about how you are feeling and whether or not you are approachable. When you are trying to start a conversation with your child, you must maintain an open and inviting body language, not one that is closed off or aggressive.
Aggressive body language, like standing with your hands on your hips, or your arms and legs crossed, can send a clear message to your child that they should not talk with you unless they want a stressful response.
Focus on maintaining positive and open body language, even if your child is telling you something that you do not want to hear. Sit in a familiar setting and ensure that you do not cross your arms or legs and that there is nothing in between you and your child when you are having a difficult conversation.
Maintaining open body language will reinforce that you are an approachable figure and will encourage more relationship-building conversations in the future.
Practice Working Together, Not Working Against
Conversations between you and your child should be you and your child against a problem not you versus your child. When you try to strongarm your child with authoritarian parenting styles, this can often lead to them working behind your back to try and conceal problems from you.
Instead of trying to control your child, focus on maintaining an open dialogue with clear expectations. If your child fails, then you can work with them to reconvene and develop a new plan to help them move forward. Focus on helping your child tackle tough problems instead of seeking more control over their actions.
Is your child facing challenges at school? Check out this guide to learn more about how you can face them together!
Seven Skills for Improving the Quality of Conversation with Your Child
Conversations with your child do not always have to be serious or important. Sometimes they can be fun and give your child a chance to share their interests with you.
Below are seven tips for improving the quality of conversation with your child.
- Show interest. Pay close attention to your child’s likes and dislikes. Learn what interests them and what they want to change about the world. Reengage with your child about these topics often and always look for common ground. You can do more research on the topics your child brings up, so you are more knowledgeable on those topics in future discussions.
- Let them talk. It can be tempting to ask your child any questions that come to your mind when discussing their interests. However, sometimes it can be better to let them talk about what is on their mind. Let them get out all their thoughts before you prod them with a question. This is especially important for younger children as it allows them to develop complete thoughts before diving deeper.
- Ask specific questions. Specific questions let your child know you are listening and give them a chance to expand their thoughts and opinions. Many children answer questions with one or two words. Be sure that your questions continue the topic of conversation and add something meaningful to the discussion.
- Acknowledge their feelings. Bringing up difficult topics is not easy. If your child is upset about a topic or an incident, give them a chance to acknowledge their feelings and work through them with you. This is especially helpful if they are upset with you about something you did. Give them a chance to discuss their feelings and reinforce that their emotions are valid.
- Allow them to direct some conversations. As parents, it can be easy to take control of conversations with your children. However, it is important to sometimes let your child hold the reins. Take some time to allow your child to control a conversation and see where it goes. Let them tell you what is important and address those subject matters. Letting your child generate a conversation will make them feel heard and important and can do wonderful things for creating a loving parent-child relationship.
- Show them you are listening. Everyone wants to feel heard. When your child is discussing something important to them, ensure that they know you are listening and engaged. Make eye contact, actively listen, and briefly summarize their points after they have made them. This will show your child that you take their thoughts seriously and want to know more about them.
- Give them space. Not every conversation can be tackled in a day. Give your child physical and mental space to work through problems on their own and reengage on tough topics later. When your child has the chance to work through issues themselves it will often lead to more meaningful results over rushing through a problem with you.
Body positivity is a challenge both children and adults face. Learn how to discuss this difficult subject here!
Foster a Better Parent-Child Relationship at Child Focus
Building a strong and healthy parent-child relationship is not easy. It takes hard work, dedication, and time to work through difficult topics.
However, discussing difficult topics can be impossible for some families on their own. Parenting can be hard, and it's normal to need help.
In those cases, family therapy is the best option for achieving a healthy relationship. A trained therapist can help parents and children identify difficult subjects and identify ways that they can work through them for the health and well-being of their families.
Child Focus is here for all your family therapy needs. In addition to therapy, we offer parent enrichment, mental health services, parent employment programs, and more!
If you are curious about what Child Focus can do for you and your family, click here to start a conversation today!
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