While February seems to be the month focused on relationships and love, we can continue to build and maintain these long-lasting connections everyday with our children. From Valentine’s Day in February to International Day of Families in May and National Loving Day in June, the year is filled with different opportunities to teach our children the importance of healthy relationships and the skills needed to build and nurture those relationships.
Relationships are an important part of a child’s social and emotional development. As humans, the need to communicate with others is essential. We create friendships, partnerships, and interactions that provide us the connection we need. Your child, whether you realize it or not, is learning and growing through their relationships with every person they’re in contact with. The skills needed to build healthy relationships begin to develop at birth.
As children get older, they become more independent and more focused on creating friendships with their peers. Although parents continue to be the most important people in their child’s life, children tend to distance themselves as they learn how to become self-sufficient. This is a good thing, but there are steps you can take to make sure that you’re maintaining a close, healthy relationship with your newly independent school-ager.
Growing and Maintaining a Relationship with Your School-Ager:
Keep it positive and intentional When you sense a perfect time to talk either about school or friends, be simple and positive. Your child is experiencing and learning a lot. Be careful not to shame them or make them feel uncomfortable talking to you. Let them know you are on their team!
Listen closely Sometimes as adults, it’s our instinct to impart our wisdom on our little ones. It’s important to remember that children learn the best by modeling or watching you. If your child wants to talk, listen closely, acknowledge their feelings, and empathize. This will go a long way in letting your child know you are a safe person to talk to.
Set clear rules Explain what you expect from your child upfront. Children like to know what to expect and what’s expected of them. Being clear about limits and expectations will help to reduce conflict and increase transparency in the household.
Have family meals Family meals can strengthen your family relationships and your child’s sense of belonging. It also provides time every day, free of distraction, to connect and have a conversation.
Create family traditions You may never realize the impact, memories, and connections that traditions can create. Whether it’s making cookies every Christmas Eve or going for ice cream before the first day of school each year, your children will love having a special family moment to look forward to and look back on.
Relationships require time, care, and a lot of nurturing. As parents, your energy is constantly being pulled in a thousand directions. Be sure to take a step back to ensure that the relationship with your school-ager is growing and developing just as they are.