By Chelsea Pfister, MSW, LSW, Youth First, Inc.
In today’s hustle and bustle, our society is keen on focusing on our never-ending to-do lists, as well as the other roles and responsibilities that scatter our lives. With hectic schedules during the school year, inflation at an all-time high, and post-COVID protocols still around, parents might wonder what steps they can take to seize these moments of opportunity with their children and maximize their children’s success.
Below, parents can find several tips on how to strengthen bonds with their children and maximize their children’s success.
- Words of affirmation. Getting into the routine of giving words of affirmation to your child is a great way to seize the opportunity for connection. Practice this by saying things such as “I love you” or “You are doing so well.” This is important even on challenging days. In fact, when parent-child disagreements occur, this is a more important time than ever to express your love to your child.
- Share values and beliefs. Talk with your children about your values and beliefs. It is important to allow your child to ask questions and to answer them honestly. The more frequently these teachings are reinforced, the deeper the understanding your child will have of expectations within the home.
- Allow children to help you. Sometimes, parents can miss forging these closer relationships with their children by not allowing them to help with household chores and various tasks. Examples of this include helping with organization around the house, cooking meals, and even grocery shopping. Children that experience this autonomy and feel as if their voice is heard can have higher self-esteem and closer relationships.
- Eat meals as a family. Families that eat dinner together have closer relationships and better communication with one another. Utilizing mealtime to discuss each other’s day can be a great way to open communication lines and engage in family time. Some parents even make a fun tradition out of it; for example, having each person share one positive thing they accomplished that day. Remember to keep conversations positive and avoid using this time for confrontation or discipline.
- Seek out one-on-one opportunities often. Make time for individual experiences with your child (Or, if you have more than one child, make time for individual time with each of them). This does not have to be an extended period of time; rather, taking small moments throughout the week to engage in small tasks with children individually can make them feel important, and can help forge those family connections.
- Practice your own self-care. This is perhaps the most important tip on the list. As important as it is to be mindful to optimize positive connections with our children, it’s also incredibly important to take care of yourself as a parent. Take moments of opportunity to nourish yourself by doing things that you enjoy and that fulfill you. Remember, it is a marathon – not a sprint!
Chelsea Pfister, MSW, LSW, is a Youth First Social Worker at North Posey High School and North Posey Jr. High in Posey County. Youth First, Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening youth and families, providing 83 Master’s level social workers and prevention programs to 117 schools in 13 Indiana counties. Over 60,000 youth and families per year are served by Youth First’s school social work and after school programs that promote mental health, prevent substance misuse, and maximize student success. To learn more about Youth First, visit youthfirstinc.org or call 812-421-8336.