Many of our programs work closely with families every day and we know parenting brings challenges. To help parents, we have brought together our parenting specialists to produce an online resource for families. The Parenting Resource Hub has 5 different articles each month on a range of parenting topics from strengthening relationships to managing technology use, with tips on creating safe and more harmonious homes. We launched the Hub in late August with an article specially created to celebrate Fathers.
The art of repair
Parents often lament the occasions when the relationship with their child becomes strained. It's hard never to be irritable with a child who is having a meltdown or trying to buy every lolly in the shop. Guilt can be a frequent visitor for parents feeling sorry for being less patient than they may have liked to be.
The good news is that strained parent - child relationships provide a wonderful opportunity for repair that can build resilience in families. Well repaired relationships, in fact, can be even stronger than the relationship before the strain occurred. Repair also teaches children to be able to repair their own relationships with friends and siblings.
Repairing a strained relationship first requires that a parent take time out to consider his or her own feelings. Conflict with anyone can be unpleasant but when it is conflict with your child, it can trigger big emotions. Taking a little time to calm down and assess what the situation may really be about is often very helpful.
The next step is to take time to listen to your child, trying hard not to allow your own emotions to get in the way of seeing your child. Often, children will give subtle clues about their inner feelings that can emerge as disruptive behaviour or emotional meltdowns. Listening carefully can help you to pinpoint where the conflict may have arisen.
The crucial major step in repair is then finding a respectful way to reconnect. For a younger child, this is often possible with child-led play. Joining in with a child's play and allowing the child to direct you with their imagination, allows a child to safely express feelings, to feel some command of the situation and explore ways to resolve hurt.
For a young person, driving them to friends or to school for a treat demonstrates a willingness to connect and resolve the conflict. Talking whilst looking out the car window and not at each other can provide a feeling of safety that helps calm the situation.
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Disclaimer: This article does not give professional advice. The contents constitute general information of a summary nature of interest and relevance at the time of publication. You should not rely on the contents as professional advice but should seek, formal advice in particular matters relevant to your particular situation.