30 Aug Building Positive Interactions with Your Child(ren)
When children are first born they need 3 basic things: food, sleep, air (and a clean diaper doesn’t hurt.) As these babies turn into toddlers and these toddlers into tweens and adolescents, things stop being so basic and can become a little more complicated. Many children need and crave attention. They want their parents to be present, both physically and emotionally.
In multi-children households, often one child demands more attention than the other(s) or just naturally gets more attention. This uneven division of attention can have different types of consequences for both you and your child(ren).
In order to ensure that each child is feeling loved and heard follow some of these guidelines:
Make time for each individual child
Even if you have multiple children and spend time as a family, it is important to make sure each child feels valued and like they have a one on one connection with you. A good way to do this is to have a special ritual or tradition with each child.
Don’t choose (or create the illusion of) favorites
Most parents claim they don’t have a favorite child, and yet in every family children play the age-old game of “who is the favorite”. The less you bring attention to it and the less you truly do favor one child over another, the less conflict you will have between siblings, that child and yourself.
Kids are pretty straightforward; they’re going to tell you what they need. If a child is shouting that you’re never home with them and always out with your friends… listen. While that might not be exactly true, that is how your child is feeling. Validate their feelings. And, if it is true, maybe stay in one extra night or make a special activity with that child.
How do you feel when you’re talking to someone and his or her head is in their phone or iPad? If you’re like most people, you feel like that other person is not listening to you… same goes for kids. When they’re talking give them your full attention… don’t just yes them between texts or ask them to repeat themselves after you’ve finished your game of Candy Crush.
It can often be difficult to split up your time evenly between each child and that’s ok… different kids have different needs. But if your child is expressing anger or sadness that you’re spending more time with another child, VALIDATE their feelings. “I can see that you’re upset I’m spending a lot of time with your brother and it must be hard for you to see me taking him everywhere all the time.” Using the word ‘AND’ is accepting of their feelings; try this instead of the word ‘BUT’ which negates their feelings.
OFFER SOME SOLUTIONS
“How about you and I spend some special time together this weekend and take a walk in the park together.”
Stick to your word. Make sure you actually do go to the park together on the weekend, just the two of you.
By making some of these small changes in your interactions with your child, you might really see how your relationship can grow and flourish. You’ll be able to see a positive change in your child’s emotional state, as well.
Authored By: Tracey B. Weiss, LCSW