Seven Tips for Building a Better Relationship with Your Children

eybergen-mouthofbabesInteracting with our children can be either an experience that produces negative feelings, or a positive one that produces good feelings. The ability to build warm and supportive relationships with our children is essential to effective parenting. It is important for parents to maintain a child’s integrity during interactions so as to foster the healthy development of their identity.

Patterns of interpersonal behaviour will either invite cooperation or conflict. Combative communication styles should be avoided. Relationships between parents and children often become strained when there is a tendency for the parents to be argumentative and rigid. If a child sets up disagreements in conversations (which happens most often) it is up to the parent to diffuse the situation and in doing so, that parent will teach the child effective interpersonal skills.

Here are seven positive relationship building tips:

  1. Listen intently to what your child is saying and validate her feelings. Listening demonstrates respect and when you understand how she is feeling it makes you a safe person for her to talk to.
  2. Show interest in your children—what kind of music do they listen to? What sports do they enjoy? Who are their heroes? What are their dreams and aspirations? Make time to recognize and nurture their talents and interests.
  3. Allow your children opportunities to make decisions. Empower them to make independent choices allowing them some control over their lives. As they get older these choices can take on more and more responsibility.
  4. Demonstrate behaviour that reflects high self-esteem. “I don’t like to be yelled at. When you can speak to me without yelling I am here to listen to you.”
  5. Let your needs be known. Assert yourself and clearly present your feelings. “It saddens me when ignore my requests. I feel disrespected.” Being able to say: “I disagree with you but will help you explore other alternatives,” is a healthy assertive approach.
  6. Stop yourself from making negative value judgments. Refrain from jumping in with your thoughts before your child has finished talking. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with what is being said but when you judge a child he will not feel heard and you run the risk of him choosing not to communicate with you.
  7. Work with your child’s strengths to solve problems. Identify goals and set realistic expectations for your child.

Dyan Eybergen, a child and adolescent psychiatric nurse, has more than ten years experience working as a therapist and parent educator. Eybergen currently resides in St. Albert, Alberta, with her husband and three sons. Out of the Mouths of Babes is her first book. For more information visit

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