Life can feel really chaotic right now with all the changes due to COVID this fall and getting ready for a potentially difficult (or at least different!) holiday season. Things with our kids can feel out of control as well, whether it is managing their feelings or redirecting their behaviors. In these difficulty times, we easily lose sight of what really matters, like having a strong connection with your child. We often forget that a warm relationship goes a long way to help with problems that we face. 

Benefits of Focusing on Relationship with your Child

Establishing a positive and supportive relationship with your child helps in these ways: 

  • Increases their sense of safety and security
  • Reduces anxiety and stress 
  • Helps you feel more confident in your parenting 
  • Increases self-esteem 
  • Reduces conflict 
  • Helps kids accept limits and disciple

How to Build a Strong Relationship with Your Child 

Strengthening your relationship can be like taking a daily multivitamin or exercising….you may not see the impact right away but overtime it makes life a lot easier and healthier. And hopefully you can also have some fun with it along the way!

Here are three things that you can start doing today: 

Start One-on-One Time 

I mentioned in a previous blog that daily one-on-one time reduces unwanted or problem behaviors. It also helps parents and children feel closer and more secure in their relationship. 

Choose at least 5 minutes per day that you can spend with your child one-on-one without distractions. Finding a short time daily and having it be part of your routine can be more helpful than waiting until you have a full afternoon on the weekend. During this special time, avoid criticism and choose something to do that you and your child will enjoy. If you are having fun and able to be enthusiastic, that will communicate to your child that you are there for them and enjoy being with them. 

Here are some ideas for daily one-on-one time: 

  • 5 minutes of joining your preschooler in what they are playing 
  • Read a bedtime story
  • Stay up to talk with your teenager before going to bed 
  • Drawing or coloring with your child 

Schedule Family Time 

Find a time for the family to do something fun together. This could be something routine like family dinner a few nights per week or a fun activity on the weekend like game night or family bike ride. Choose something that is fun for everyone or take turns deciding on the activity if your kids have a hard time agreeing. Identify activities that you can do on a consistent basis based on your family budget and weekly schedule.  

Regular family time helps to reduce conflict and also helps kids feel less socially isolation. Giving the family something fun to do together is a great way to bond and help everyone feel better. 

Here are some ideas of activities to do as a family: 

  • Family game night 
  • Movie night
  • Trip to the park
  • Bike ride/walk
  • Family Dinner 
  • Pancake breakfast on Saturday
  • Go get ice cream or Starbucks as a family  

Increase Labeled Praise 

Lastly, increase how often you praise your child throughout the day. Labeled praise means being specific about what you appreciated that your child did. Instead of more general praise like “Good job” or “You had a good day,” praise what your liked that your child did. For example: “I loved it when you used gentle hands with your sister” or “Thank you for picking up your trucks when I asked.” Being specific helps your child know what exactly you liked and will help them do that action more often in the future. Praise also helps your kids feel better about themselves because you are calling out something that they did well. 

To help increase how often you praise, find a time during the day that you are going to praise as often as you can. This could be during your one-on-one time or a time of the day that is tough, like the morning or a transition from free time to homework. See how often you can give praise, even if it is for something small. 

Relationship is a Powerful Tool for Your Child

Increasing praise and routine time with your child individually and as a family all go a long way to help your relationships. It also increases your confidence as a parent and your ability to enjoy being with your child! Choose something to start implementing today to help support your child through the powerful tool of relationship. 

Calm the Chaos at Home Worksheet

Want these questions in an easy to use free downloadable worksheet? This worksheet will help you take steps forward in dealing with anxiety. You’ll also get access to all our worksheets in Here Counseling’s Resource Library!


Melissa Winfield, PsyD
Melissa Winfield, PsyD

I help children, teenagers and parents find hope and resilience through the tough times