Creative Child

Healing the Parent-Child Relationship in 6 Steps

by Rebecca Eanes

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Step 3: Change Negative Patterns and Replace Old Habits

This step is where words meet action. Einstein once said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If homework hour always leads to frustration, change it up. Try baking cookies and playing soft classical music during this hour and moving it to a time when you can be present and engaged. If bedtime is a battle, rearrange your routine until you find something that works.

If you know too much screen time is making you too distracted or your kids too grumpy, shut it down and go for a walk together. Build quality family down time — or what my friend and author of The Danish Way, Jessica Joelle Alexander calls "hygge" — into your daily family life.

Step 4: Greet Warmly to Nourish Positive Feelings

This is a simple but effective step in rebuilding the relationship. When your child enters the room, simply look up and warmly acknowledge their presence. When we make our children feel that we are genuinely happy to see them and to be around them, positive feelings will flourish.


Step 5: Scale Back the Discipline

Many times when we are in a state of disconnect with our children, misbehavior is a problem and constant correction or discipline has become the norm. Realize that the misbehavior is due, in large part at least, to the disconnection your child feels. If you focus on reconnecting, the behavior will naturally improve. During this repair phase, let the little things go and only discipline important things that must be addressed. Even then, make your correction kind and to the point, leaving anger, criticism, and punishment out of it because these things will only slow the progress of healing your relationship. When you put your focus on healing the source of the problem behavior rather than disciplining the behavior itself, you’ll see faster improvement and your relationship will strengthen. For more on setting limits while building a bond, read my article on creating connection through correction.

Step 6: Make Special Time a Priority

Finally, now that your relationship is on the mend and you are getting closer, keep it up by promising to spend at least a few minutes per day of “special time” with your child. This could be a one-on-one chat at bedtime, a game of Uno, pretend play, cooking together, or whatever you enjoy doing together. Here are 15 ways to connect with your child in five minutes or less. The only rule is that your attention must be undivided.

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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