Having special little rituals gives your child and you the chance to connect, no matter what else is happening.
Baking a some cookies together, reading a book at bedtime, planting some flowers, going swimming, to the beach, or to a cottage– kids love these kinds of rituals. Be creative: One father I know got into the habit of making breakfast every Saturday morning with his daughters. Another gets up every weekend and teaches his son how to make birdhouses for their community.
What the ritual is doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s something your child and you both enjoy. Even when you’re frustrated with your child, it’s important to continue doing it. You do not take it away as a punishment as it is not a privilege. It is a way to connect that is something sacred that you together.
Be Your Child’s Biggest Booster:
The single most important thing you can do for your children is to let them know you’re absolutely crazy about them. Tell them often that they are terrific. Say, “You are the best thing in my life.” Research shows that these kinds of messages make kids resilient and help them deal with disappointment, rejection, and the other unpleasant stuff that life routinely hands out. Surprisingly, a lot of children don’t know how much their moms and dads appreciate them, and that’s because parents aren’t getting the message across. Make a conscious effort to be positive — even when you’re setting limits. Instead of criticizing a kid for fighting with a sibling, for example, say something like, “I know that’s not your best effort. I’m sure you love your brother a lot more than you’re showing him now.” That lets your child know you have faith in him, that you believe in him — and what can beat that?
Make Family Time a Priority:
In recent years, there has been a lot of emphasis on keeping kids challenged — and busy. When children are as young as 3 or 4, we sign them up for gym classes, music lessons, sports teams, and more. We’re afraid that our children will fall behind if they don’t participate in what everyone else is doing. So we’ve become servants to our kids — driving them here and there, scheduling our lives around their activities.
I think it’s far more important to make family time your biggest priority than to cater to everybody’s individual activities all the time. Eat dinner as a family, even if it means your child won’t be able to make a soccer practice. Kids should carve out time for grandparents and other relatives too. Children also need lots of downtime when you can all just relax and be together as a family. Family bonds are an anchor for kids: Their activities will come and go, but family relationships will last a lifetime.