Today’s post is written by Dr. Rob Currie, a popular Hearts at Home workshop speaker.   The author of Preschool Wisdom: What Preschoolers Desperately Want to Tell Parents and Grandparents, you can find Dr. Currie’s blog for parents here.

As you ponder New Year’s resolutions for 2012, think about your parenting. If you want to make positive changes in your relationship with your child or teen, Dr. Russell Barkley, author of Your Defiant Child, has two research-based suggestions for you. His ideas are worth trying whether your kids are frequently difficult or only occasionally ornery.

His first suggestion is to compliment something your son or daughter is doing. Watch your preschooler drawing and say, “I like the colors you picked.” Listen to your teenager practicing the piano and say, “That song sounds really good.” The best compliment is genuine and offered without suggestion or criticism.

There are many times when you need to correct your kids’ behavior or performance. But there also need to be many instances where you simply express approval of what your kids are doing in the interest of building your relationship.

Dr. Barkley’s second suggestion is to spend a few minutes each day doing something fun with your child or teen. Examples include solving a puzzle, shooting hoops, playing catch, or making something artistic with your child or teen. My son and I do this sometimes having a jam session, with him on the drums and me messing around on the guitar. Other times we play catch in the yard or shoot baskets in the driveway. I’ve found that the best activities are the ones that you and your child enjoy because you’ll be brought together by the common interest and mutual enjoyment.

As you set up the “fun time,” select activities that are interactive because the give and take between you, in words and actions, stimulates bonding much more effectively than something noninteractive, such as watching television together. Watching television or a movie doesn’t typically have the same payoff in improving a relationship.

Most married couples understand the importance of taking steps to rekindle the spousal affection. It’s also the motivation for complimenting your son or daughter and taking time to have fun together. Include these two suggestions in your New Year’s resolutions. You’ll be glad you did.


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