Arguably, one of the most important jobs in the world and the one that we receive the least amount of training and preparation for. Each phase of raising a child, or children, brings about its rewards and challenges. Challenges to connect with your child, power struggles, and desire to raise a child that is happy and respectful. Often, it can feel that parents are alone in this struggle.
If there is one thing I can do, I hope it is to reassure you that you are not alone in this struggle.
Every parent at some time in their parenting career has faced challenges similar to the challenges you are facing today and could benefit from parenting therapy.
The good news, there are things as parents you can do to help mend relationships, reduce power struggles, and instill independence and self-confidence in your children!
A katy therapist’s 4 TIPS ON HOW TO BUILD A BETTER RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR CHILD
Everyone deserves to be heard and understood. You, the parent, and your child both deserve to have your words heard. This doesn’t mean that you and your child are equal. You are the parent with more experiences and responsibilities and your child still needs a guide in life. You can ensure your child is feeling heard by using active listening, as outlined below:
- Pay attention:
- Listen to understand- not listen to reply
- Make eye contact
- Withhold judgment:
- Listen with an open mind for new ideas or perspectives
- Pause and take time to process what has been said before responding
- Ask questions:
- “Let me see if I am understanding correctly … “
- “Will you further explain…”
- Before responding, summarize what you heard so that your child knows they have been understood
- Share/State how you are feeling and your ideas and suggestions.
- Engage in problem-solving together.
- Ask questions:
It will take time for this to become a natural way of conversing with your child and for your child to actively listen to you. As the parent, it will be helpful to model and practice active listening with your child.
Life is busy, things need cleaning, and children and their behavior need attending to. In the midst of the craziness of life, we forget to have fun- we forget to play. Take time to have fun with your child(ren). It doesn’t have to be big and extravagant. Smile at them, make silly faces, plan for a short time each day to play a game, read a book, tell jokes, and engage them in chores/cleaning with a silly game or goal. Activities throughout the day that can promote fun can help reengage the relationship and helps to focus not on the problems at hand, but what you enjoy and love about your child.
- Tell your child something you enjoyed doing with them that day
- Play word games on the way to and from school/bus stop
- Have your child read or tell a joke to you
- Watch a funny TV show while you do chores
- Make silly faces while cooking dinner together
- Take 5 minutes for something fun before bedtime
Everyone needs to feel capable, loved, and feel good about themselves. So, how do we help children achieve these feelings? Notice what is unique about your child and tell them what makes them special. Notice your child’s efforts and point out the progress they are making along the way of their given job (homework, chore list, attempts to try something hard/new). Focus on the process and not the product.
- I can see you are working really hard on that.
- That was a big help today! Thank you.
- You seem proud to do that on your own!
- You can do it.
- That is hard, I think you can work it out.
- Thank you for starting your chores.
For more tips on improving your child’s self-esteem check out our blog Love Yourself! Enhancing Your Child’s Self-Esteem
Listen for Feelings
Often, as a parent, you may find you are wanting to fix the problem your children are facing. You want to provide them with the answer or solution to make them feel better and move along with the day. When we do this, we miss a few things. We miss the connection with our children that we hear and understand them. We also take away their creativity and self-empowerment to find solutions on their own!
So, what should we do instead? Focus on the feelings your child is sharing in their story and respond to the underlying feelings that are being stated. When you respond in this way, you are letting your child know that you hear and understand them. Responding to their feelings allows them to process and have space to come up with solutions on their own.
- You’re feeling jealous/disappointed/excited.
- You’re angry that I won’t allow you to…
- You seem worried about that.
- You’re feeling ready to go!
PARENTING THERAPY TIPS FOR TEENS
If you are a parent to a teenager and you’re wondering if it’s too late to try these strategies…, you’re not! All these same concepts can be applied to your hormone-filled, independence-seeking, and social teenager(s) that fit their developmental needs. (And at what better time to mend a relationship with your teen while they are discovering and developing their self-identity).
- Teach and model active listening.
- Play a board or card game of your teen’s choosing
- Cook a meal together that they want to eat
- Get out in nature
- Make smores or a fun dessert together
- Encourage their efforts, remember process over product
- State reminders in a word, a note, or a funny tone of voice to avoid the feeling of nagging
- Identify what is unique about them and share with them
- Focus on and reflect on their feelings
About the Author
My name is Megan Griffith. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor – Associate at Brittani Persha Counseling. Personally, I knew for a long time that I wanted to be a therapist. I wanted to help others find their strengths, process hardships, and work towards their goals. After engaging in my own therapy, I realized just how powerful therapy is and it fueled my desire to pursue this career.
I provide therapy across the lifespan, meaning I work with children, teenagers, and adults. I support children through play therapy, teens and adults through talk therapy, and parents through parenting therapy. I also work with Moms who are discovering their identity within and outside of Motherhood. As a newer mom myself, I understand the struggles of becoming a mom and how my roles and identities have shifted.
Looking to Begin Parenting Therapy? Here’s how BPC can Help
These are the beginning steps to building a better relationship with your child or teenager. For more information about one of our parenting therapy clinicians, click here. If you have any questions or would like more information on the topics discussed or want to know what are the next steps, visit BPC’s website, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or give us a call at: 713-364-8645.