Finding ways to bond with your child is challenging enough when you only have one, but when you have two or more, it becomes even more difficult because they compete endlessly for your love, attention, time and resources.
You find yourself just focused on getting the kids from Point A to Point B every day, with no time or energy to properly engage them as individuals. That’s why you should make a conscious effort to be fully present with each child.
Here are 10 suggestions on how you can do this.
Make each kid feel special
“Firsts” are always more exciting and it’s only natural that your excitement at your second child’s achievements might be less than at those of your older child. But your little one needs to feel valued and special, too. Go to his shows, display his paintings, and praise his achievements, just as you did with your firstborn.
Show that you are fair
There will be times when both children come to you, each complaining about the other’s annoying behaviour. Allow each of them to express their point of view, show them that you are listening and treat them both fairly.
Give each of them individual time
Spend time with each of your children individually every day. All it takes is five or 10 minutes when they come home from school, or before they go to bed. Those precious moments alone with you boost your relationship with each of them.
Show positive attention
Don’t wait until your children misbehave before you give them your negative attention. Instead, give them positive attention when they are not expecting it – for example, when they are laying well together or when they are quietly reading a book. This unexpected gesture delights them.
Help them learn how to share and cooperate with each other. Give them minor tasks that require them to work together in order to complete them, such as laying the plates for dinner, or tidying their toys. Show them how to manage this job together, without arguing.
Help them resolve conflicts
Siblings fight at times; that’s inevitable. But you can strengthen your relationship with them by helping them settle recurring disputes. Bring them together, sit them so they face each other, and discuss the problem until it’s sorted out. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when they later say: “Thanks, Mum.”
Do things as a family
Maybe you dread the prospect of taking your children on an outing because of all the preparation that’s involved, the bickering that’s likely, and the possible misbehaviour. But organise these outings anyway because they make that bond between family members stronger.
Give your children choices
Parenting is so much easier if you could just tell your kids what to do all the time. However, that can strain your relationship with them. It’s far better to give each of your children minor choices about, for example, which of two T-shirts to wear, or which of two stories they want you to read to them at bedtime.
(Also read: 10 ways to develop your child’s self-esteem)
Each of your children is a unique individual with his or her own special blend of talents, abilities and personal characteristics. So, don’t compare them with each other (at least not in front of them). Comparisons like that are divisive and create unnecessary resentment. Treat each of them individually.
Give lots of affection
Love and affection – expressed verbally and physically – is the glue of all parent-child relationships. The hug, the cuddle, the gentle touch on the shoulder to indicate approval, the “I love you”, are all central to your children’s emotional well-being – that is the most basic way of telling them that you think they are wonderful.