Building strong relationships
By The Psychology Foundation of Canada
Preteens are children between the ages of 10 and 12 years. Many important changes occur in children during this time. Every child is different. As you try some of the suggestions in this article, keep your individual child’s personality in mind. When children are very young, it is easy to stay close because they rely on you and spend so much time with you. As they get older, children spend more time away from us, so it can become harder to find moments of connection that keep your relationship strong. Of course, you are still the parent and you continue to have a lot of influence over your child, but you may need to find new and different ways to connect. When you have a good relationship with your children, they feel understood and supported, and are more likely to respect you and follow your family culture. How can you help and stay connected to your child?
1) Look for ways to connect and communicate. Regularly find ways to connect with your children. For example, eat meals together as often as you can, have conversations in the car while driving back and forth, and attend your children’s sports or dance competitions. The more you can positively connect with your children through their daily routines, the stronger your relationship will become.
2) Talk to your children about their interests. Parents spend a lot of time talking to their children about rules, regulations and what they want their children to think and do. It is important to make a real effort to have conversations about your children’s ideas and interests as well. Listen, listen, listen. When you ask your children about their ideas, they really appreciate it, and you will better understand how your children are growing and changing.
3) Continue to have clear standards for your children’s behaviour. Your children still need you to establish clear and consistent rules for what they are and aren’t allowed to do. Rules at home are important for teaching, but they also allow your children to feel safe and supported at a time when many things in their lives are changing. When your children feel safe with you leading the way, your relationship naturally becomes stronger over time.
4) Set a good example with your own behaviour. Remember that your children pay very close attention to everything you do and say. If you demand respect from them and don’t respect them in return, you can damage your relationship. They will think, “Why should I listen to my parents if they don’t even do what they say is right?” So, model the behaviour that you wish to see in your children respect them, praise them when they do something well, try not to be overly critical and apologize when you’ve made a mistake and you will be building a strong foundation for a good relationship.
5) Have fun! This stage of growing up can be a time when you and your child feel anxious about the near future. Don’t forget to have fun together, laugh together and enjoy each other’s company. Plan things you both like to do together, such as cooking, going for a walk, playing sports, watching a television program, visiting a museum, shopping, listening to music or having a movie night.
Reprinted with permission.
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