As a parent, one of the most important things you can do for your child is to establish a strong and positive relationship with them. But with the demands of a full-time job, managing the household, and the overwhelming commitment of after-school sports and activities, where do you even begin? Here are 5 simple ways to foster a stronger bond with your family that you can begin practicing today:
1. Spend quality time together
We get it. This can be easier said than done. But it doesn’t have to be. Set aside regular time each week to do an activity together that you all enjoy. This can be as simple as making dinner together, taking a family walk, or even a movie night at home. While many activities designed for kids don’t directly allow parents to participate, martial arts in an unexpected exception. In fact, training in the martial arts as a family has been proven to help families establish good fitness habits, increase levels of trust and self-esteem, and decrease stress and anxiety.
2. Listen and communicate
Make sure you REALLY listen to what your kids have to say. Yes, even when it’s a 20 minute recount of their latest Roblox adventure. Listening and engaging with curiosity when it comes to the little things, builds trust and encourages open and honest communication. It’s more likely that they will come to you with the bigger, more challenging matters if they trust that you will listen to the seemingly less significant matters. Additionally, training in the martial arts as a family encourages open communication. As you work through drills and training exercises together, you learn to communicate and even work through conflict and frustration in a healthy and beneficial way.
3. Show affection
This one is probably obvious, but it’s also an area most of us could probably do better in. Of course, affection can be demonstrated through physical affection, (ie. hugs, high-fives, fist bumps, etc.) or verbal affirmation, (ie. words of encouragement or praise). It’s truly remarkable what a difference a reassuring touch or a kind word can do to help your child feel loved and supported. Having other positive and supportive mentors in their lives, like their martial arts coaches, is also key in helping them develop confidence in who they are and encouraging them to practice their own version of positive self-talk.
4. Be patient and understanding
It’s ok to admit it…every parent has experienced being frustrated with their child at some point. That doesn’t mean we love them any less. But it’s how me chose to deal with our frustration that matters most. It’s important to practice calm communication and a whole lot of patience. It can be challenging to remember that our kids are still developing, mentally and physically, and sometimes that means they don’t always make the best decisions when it comes to their actions. The more you can demonstrate patience and understanding, without compromising your family’s morals or ethics, the stronger your bond will be. And oh, by the way, martial arts is a great outlet for stress relief and getting some of that frustration out in a healthy way (we like to call it “bag therapy”).
Rewards work as a way of positive reinforcement and really lets your kid know when they’ve done something well, and encourages good and consistent behavior. Experts agree that rewards work best when they are immediate (given right away) and intermittent (not every single time). Remember, this is NOT a bribe…it’s a reward. And yes, there’s a big difference. And guess what? Rewards don’t always have to be material things (though, it’s ok if they are sometimes). In fact, there are four main types or rewards you can consider (pro-tip…you’re doing amazing, so make sure you reward yourself, too):
Tangible rewards – toys, books, treats, fuzzy socks
Self-care rewards– play a video game, watch a movie, listen to music
Social rewards– set up a “play date” or lunch with a friend, plan a family outing, have a picnic
Healthy rewards– sign up for a “fun run” or 5k, make a fun, healthy meal together, go for a hike
Don’t be afraid to get creative and above all…have FUN! Following these five simple tips, you’ll build a bond with your family that will surely last a lifetime!
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