Whenever I have parents come into my office complaining about their child’s behavior, I always recommend strengthening the parent-child relationship first. After the relationship is buttressed, then we can move on to holding good boundaries, providing structure, and learning good communication techniques. But as I always say, “If you have a relationship, you have influence. Without a relationship, you have nothing.”
“Together Time” is a great way to build your relationship with your child. Here are the rules for “Together Time.”
- The child makes a list of at least 10 activities he or she would like to share with the parent. These activities must conform to the family budget, so . . . go ahead and cross Disneyworld off of your child’s list!
- These activities must be able to be completed in 20-30 minutes total.
- Together Time should occur at least 3x per week but no more than once daily.
- Try to plan a consistent time for Together Time, but both people should value flexibility since things can “come up.” If the parent needs to reschedule more than a couple times per week, the parent may need to adjust priorities.
- Only the child and parent participate. Don’t add spouses or other children into the mix. Just focus on your child.
- Both parties turn their phone/screens OFF so they aren’t distracted.
- Refrain from discussing schedules, grades, chores or assignments during Together Time. No nagging! No criticism!
- Try to make good eye contact and enjoy at least one belly-laugh during Together Time. Hugs or supportive touch can be very important.
- Take photos towards the end to remember the good experience.
As your relationship improves, your child will be open to your influence and start to care about your opinion and feelings. Together Time is an important tool to create good relationships with everyone in your family.