How to strengthen your relationships with preteen children

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The most important relationship to a child is the one they develop with their parent or caregiver. Children learn about the world around them through a positive parent-child relationship. As they are growing and changing, children look to their parents to determine whether or not they are safe, secure, and loved. It is also the foundation from which they will build their future relationships.

You can build a positive parent-child relationship by being in the moment with your child, spending quality time together, and creating an environment where they feel comfortable to explore. There is no secret handbook or guaranteed approach to get this relationship right, and you’ll likely find hardships along the way. However, if you keep working on improving your relationship, especially during those difficult preteen years, your child will learn to trust and enjoy the time they spend with you.

Be in the moment with your child

Being in the moment is about tuning in and thinking about what’s going on with your child. It shows your child that you care about the things that matter to them, which is the basis for a strong relationship.

Some ideas for being in the moment with your child are;

• Show acceptance, let your child be, and try not to give directions all the time. You don’t have to get your child to think the same way as you do.

• Show acceptance, let your child be, and try not to give directions all the time. You don’t have to get your child to think the same way as you do.

• Notice what your child is doing and comment on or encourage it without judgment

• Listen to your child and try to tune in to your child’s real feelings. For example, if your child is telling you a long story about lots of things that happened during the day, they might really be saying that they like the new teacher or that they’re in a good mood.

• Stop and think about what your child’s behavior is telling you. For example, if your preteen child is hanging around in the kitchen but not talking much, they might just want to be close to you. You could offer a hug or let them help with the cooking, without needing to talk.

Show your love

Human touch and loving affection is needed at every stage of our lives for healthy emotional and neurobiological development. It is important that your child receive gentle, loving touch (hugs) from you several times throughout the day. Treat every interaction as an opportunity to connect with your child. Greet them with warm expressions, give eye contact, smile, and encourage honest, interaction.

Set boundaries, rules and consequences

Children need structure and guidance as they grow and learn about the world around them. Talk to your children about what you expect of them and make sure they understand. When rules are broken, make sure to have age-appropriate consequences in place and be consistent with them.

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