6 ways to build a healthy relationship with your son
When it comes to building a healthy relationship with your son, there’s so much parenting advice out there. Resources are great, but the last thing you need is added stress brought on by information overload.
These 6 tips will take minutes to read, and are a short but sweet reminder for all the time-poor parents out there (AKA all of us).
1. Share your stories
Avoid lecturing your son – if you do, it’s unlikely he’ll listen. Instead, share your stories about what you were like when you were his age. Really listen if and when he reciprocates. Show curiosity but avoid giving your judgements and advice (or at least keep them to yourself!).
Eye-to-eye contact is unnerving for most boys and young men, so sit or walk alongside him if you want him to open up. This doesn’t have to be at home. Great conversations can happen in the car or even on a park bench.
2. Quality time is key
If you want him to talk, put quality time at the top of your to-do list. Spend regular one-on-one time with your son – with your phone off. He learns by watching and interacting with you. He learns how to have positive relationships with women through his relationship with Mum. He learns positive masculine values from spending time with Dad.
3. Separate child from behaviour
All kids get it wrong sometimes. However, when disciplining your son, remember to separate person from behaviour. Acknowledge that your son is always learning and may need reminding (perhaps lots of reminding!). Never shame him. State that his behaviour is inappropriate and requires certain consequences. Be firm, clear and consistent about these consequences, but make sure he knows he is still loved and valued as a person.
4. Tie privilege to responsibility
As Spiderman’s wise Uncle Ben once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” As events mark another stage in your son’s maturity, his privileges should increase in line with his responsibilities. Discuss these with him and determine what you both think is reasonable. For instance, he is now in grade 6 so he can walk to the shops on his own. And from now on, he will also do the dishes on Monday and Wednesday nights.
5. Remind him of his gifts and talents
We rarely stare each other straight in the eye and say how great we think the other person is. But we should, because it is incredibly powerful. Make sure your son knows what he is good at (you can bet he already knows what he is not so good at). Be specific about the quality he showed in a certain situation and what you loved about it. Do this often.
6. Practice and encourage mindfulness
Many schools are now incorporating mindfulness meditation into their programs. There’s a reason it’s become a worldwide phenomenon. Give mindfulness meditation a try yourself (if you’re not practising already). Learning about his mind will really help your son cope with stress, strong emotions and negative self-talk. Find out more about training the brain here.
Andrew Braddy is an educator and has taught 12 to 15-year-old boys in the classroom for the past 5 years. He is currently an outdoor educator and Rites of Passage facilitator who loves taking boys on journeys of personal growth into the outdoors. This article is about Parenting
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