Parents hear about the “parent-child bond” quite a lot during their child’s formative years. We’re told from a child’s first moments that fostering this bond is critical — that it’s the key to raising a healthy, happy child. And while we’re often told that parent-child bonding will happen naturally, it still takes effort to make it meaningful.
Like any other relationship, your parent-child bonding can improve with interest, attention, and work. Luckily, the “work” required to bond with kids can be incredibly fun and fulfilling! Here are a few tips to help you bond with your little ones today.
Why the Parent-Child Bond Matters
Everyone from teachers and child psychologists to parents and relatives can see the value of parent-child bonding. As a parent, your job is to be your child’s protector and provider. The child should feel safe and happy when you’re near, and the best way to elicit those feelings is to bond with your kid.
Research on child development also backs up the value of parent-child bonds; studies show that a positive parent-child relationship can make a child more confident, can improve their self worth during the teen years, and can even lead to higher academic achievement. A strong bond with your child can set them on a path to success early on — and believe it or not, you can build this bond with just a few simple ideas.
Say “I Love You” and Other Words of Affirmation
As a parent, you love your children more than anything else in the world. Your love is so strong that you may think it’s as plain as the nose on your face! However, if you want to really bond with your kids, you may need to take extra care to show your affection out loud.
Children need to hear you say that you love them every day — even on the days when you’ve fought or disciplined them (especially on those days). Hearing this simple phrase will help them understand your unconditional love for them, and it will help your parent-child bonding every time.
Give Them Attention
Children learn a lot from their parents whether or not they’re actively trying to teach them. That includes their listening skills. As often as you can when your child is talking, give them your attention by making eye contact and responding to what they say. This teaches them how to be a good listener and helps them internalize the fact that what they have to say is important.
Attention is a fantastic method of parent-child bonding both in speaking and listening. Talk to your children about the art they make, the food they eat, the games they play — anything at all. These small moments will do wonders for your relationship — and they’ll give you a little respite from the craziness of everyday life.
Young children need structure to feel safe and secure in this big world. While their earliest years can be largely unscheduled (with no school, sports, or other activities to shape their days), you can help create that sense of safety with family traditions and rituals.
Keep in mind that these traditions don’t have to be elaborate. Make a plan to go to the park every Saturday. Read a book before bed each night. Make up a secret handshake to do before you go to work each morning. These little rituals are ideal tools for parent-child bonding, and they’re lots of fun for your child!
Listen to Your Child
Your child is going to spend A LOT of their life listening to you. Whether you’re explaining why the sky is blue, asking them to clean their room, or telling them to share their toys with a new friend, your voice is going to be one that your child looks up to and respects. This is a good thing — but it’s even better if the respect goes both ways.
Take time to listen to your child when they have questions or opinions they want to share. Having an open dialogue is a great way to facilitate parent-child bonding, and it can also help your child be more communicative with you later in life.
Engage with Their Interests
Playing together is one of the fastest (and most fun) ways to bond with kids. This is particularly true when you do an activity or play a game that your child is passionate about. And when you see the joy on your child’s face, you’re sure to be more interested, too.
Finding your child’s passions and interests is a critical part of parent-child bonding. Try out different games together. Use apps and other tools to explore different activities and find what sets your child’s eyes alight. Once you’ve uncovered a child’s passions, you two can enjoy them together and your bond will be stronger than ever.
Find Your Child’s Passions with Hello Genius
Hello Genius is an app for parents and kids ages 3 to 8. It’s a platform for children to safely explore and learn with pictures, books, and videos on topics as wide as the Internet itself. All the while, Hello Genius will be building a profile of your child’s interests and passions, then make suggestions for activities you can do together based on what they love. Try Hello Genius with your child, free for the first 30 days!