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Building a strong bond with your child is crucial for a satisfying parent-child relationship. In addition, children’s mental development benefits greatly from a strong bond between parents and children. Studies show that children who have a good bond with their parents are more likely to become happy, independent, and resilient adults.

Ideally, the process of building a strong bond with your child begins at birth. However, that’s not always possible. Factors like birth complications, postpartum depression, or lack of social support can stand in the way. But it’s never too late to build a healthy parent-child relationship.

If you are a future parent, be prepared for the challenges of parenthood for an easier transition. Don’t romanticize the idea of having a child. Despite the amazing things that come with becoming a parent, there are also difficulties. As we all know, cute little babies grow up fast, and we must keep pace with our patience.

The following five tips are based on positive parenting, the attachment theory,  and personal experience.

1. Discipline with love

All parents struggle to find the right way to effectively discipline their children. However, avoid harsh discipline as it’s very damaging to the parent-child bond. Think how intimidating it must be to have a person many times your size hover over you, demanding your obedience. Often times, we forget how vulnerable children feel when we attempt to discipline them. We may also forget to remind our children of our unconditional love. Children need to know they are not bad when they behave badly. They are simply learning to manage their emotions, and to make wiser decisions.

Tip: When attempting to discipline your children, separate them from their behaviors. Assure them of your love while letting them know that you don’t condone their behaviors, or actions.

Practice: For toddlers- distract them, or remove them from the trigger situation as you physically comfort them. Remind yourself that tantrums don’t last forever. Don’t worry about people looking at you if you’re in a public place. Your toddler’s well-being is more important than the approval of a stranger.

For older kids- when your children misbehave, make eye contact with them as you attempt to discipline them. Give two warnings, then count to three, and if they don’t stop, express your love for them and remove a privilege.

2. Treat them with respect

Have you ever caught yourself yelling at your children telling them to stop yelling? How about trying to get them to do as you say by being sarcastic, or humiliating them? As any parent will tell you, parenting the right way is not easy. Nor do we ever do it perfectly. We have so much going on in our lives, and so little time to do it all well. We are stretched thin, and, as a result, our patience is limited. So we may say, or do things we later regret. We then have to cope with the guilt of scolding our child. But we can’t demand respect from our children through disrespect, it never works.

Tip: Becoming a more mindful parent helps put things into perspective. It allows us to see our children as the immature human beings they are. Remember, they are not trying to upset us on purpose. They just need our help to guide them through our overwhelming adult centered world.

Practice: Speak to your child as you’d speak to an adult you respect. Give them instructions instead of orders, and offer explanations instead of “because I said so”.

3. Have one-on-one time

Giving a child your undivided attention is essential for the development of a strong bond. Children need to be heard and seen by their caregivers without distractions. They want to know we value them, and they are a priority in our lives.

Tip: You don’t need to go out of your way to spend quality time with your child. For instance, adding a few extra minutes to the bedtime routine can be enough to fill your child’s daily love tank.

Practice: Incorporate “special time” in your child’s daily routine. Special time means you spend an uninterrupted amount of time connecting with your child through play. Allow them to choose special time activities.

4. Actively listen to them

Active listening means paying attention to your child’s behavior and body language as they speak. When we half-hear our children we miss subtle cues that offer valuable insight into their emotional well-being. Also, when we actively listen to our children, we make them feel cherished, loved, and secure. As a result, they will share more of their thoughts and worries with us, which allows us to address a situation before it turns into a tantrum, or bad behavior.

Tip: Pay close attention to the way you currently listen to your children when they speak. If you find yourself giving mindless answers that frustrate them, or make them repeat themselves, it’s time to start practicing active listening.

Practice: Next time your child attempts to speak to you, reply promptly even if you can’t start a conversation right away. Let them know you acknowledge them, and you will listen to them. This also prevents a meltdown, which is a child’s attempt to grab the caregiver’s attention.

5. Lead with empathy

Finally, attempt to see things from your child’s perspective. Be empathetic towards the big emotions little humans feel while lacking the ability to control them. When children feel accepted and understood they thrive.

Tip: Don’t act like your children’s boss, instead walk alongside them. Validate their feelings, and tell them how you were once in their shoes. Being able to relate to someone in a difficult situation provides comfort and relief.

Practice: Resist the urge to tell your children to do things, or express their feelings the way you do. Instead, allow them the opportunity to show you their way, then offer your opinion and support.

You can now start paving the way to a fulfilling relationship with your (future adult) child. There is nothing more rewarding than a lifelong parent-child bond.

This article was originally published at Inspo Place.