Wednesday, 9 July 2014

How to form a lifelong bond with your child

Tips to help busy working parents connect with their children

Here’s a question many working parents ask: how do you form a strong bond with your child when your to-do list is packed with meetings, errands, and desk work from 7 am to 8 pm every weekday? The solution is simple: “Spend uninterrupted time with your children, even just for 30 minutes every day,” says Maribel Dionisio, MA, a parenting and relationship consultant at AMD Love Consultants for Families and Couples.
Here are a few tips to help you do just that:

Have daily one-on-one sessions with each child. “When you get home, rest for 20 minutes, then spend the next 30 minutes with one child,” suggests Dr. Dionisio. “Take a break for a few minutes, then move on to the next child.” The bottom line is, you’ll really have to make time for these bonding sessions.

Go on weekly solo dates with each child, as well.  Dr. Dionisio says apart from spending time daily with your kids, it’s also important for each parent to take each of the kids out on one-on-one dates every week (or every two weeks). But there’s one rule: “You have to do it on a budget...” says Dr. Dionisio. That will force you and your child to be creative, and it will teach your child financial responsibility. Will you have ice cream at an outdoor playground? Kick around a ball in the park?

Set a schedule and let everyone know about it. This one-on-one project is a family effort, so everyone has to be in on it wholeheartedly. Both parents have to figure out a schedule for the weekly dates—who takes whom out, how long they’ll be out, etc. Divide your time wisely, especially if you have many kids. Write down this schedule and put it up where everyone in your family can see. This will create a routine; help parents figure out their priorities; and show kids when their turn is with you.

With teenagers, you’ll have to be creative. “Your weekly dates won’t be good enough anymore when your kids become teenagers,” says Dr. Dionisio. When that time comes, you’ll have to be more creative because you’ll be the one chasing them to spend time with you. Is your teen going to her friend’s house? Offer to drive her over. Does your son need some supplies from the bookstore? Offer to go shopping with him. Does your daughter have rehearsals at school? Pick her up and take her out for ice cream after.

Don’t use a cookie-cutter routine for all your kids. Because each child is different, you’ll have to treat them differently, as well.

“Your eldest and your second child probably think in opposite ways,” says Dr. Dionisio. “If you put both kids together and force them to do the same things with you, normally, they’ll just end up fighting. Or you might inadvertently give more attention to the louder child. Your alone time has to be custom-fit for each child. Some kids need more alone time with you than other kids.”

Take advantage while they’re still young. Spending time with your children is important, more so while they’re still young.

“It takes three to five years to change behaviour,” says Dr. Dionisio. “The sooner parents understand this principle, the better. Their positive relationship with their kids will give parents leverage if they have relationship problems with their kids later on. They won’t have to do repair work [on their kids’ attitude] if they work on it now.” And by ‘working on it,’ that means spending quality (and quantity) time with your kids. If you connect with them this way for their first 10 years, you’ll be able to connect with them for the rest of their lives.

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