Feeling like you have a good connection with your daughter but it could be stronger? You’re not alone. Many moms would like to strengthen the bond they have with the daughter.
But what’s the best way to do that when you’re already trying your best? Read below for 7 simple ways to make your relationship with your daughter even stronger.
1.Strengthen by doing daily distraction-free quality time
When you spend time with your daughter you’re investing in her. You’re communicating to her: “I care about what’s going on in your world.” As she grows up and her friends become more important in her life,the time you’ve spent with her will be memories she can recall for guidance in sticky situations.
Also, when you spend time with your daughter, it boosts her self-esteem because you’re telling her “You matter.” This helps her to feel good about herself so she can grow, develop, and succeed.
Easier said than done, right? You would be surprised by how little time it takes to connect with your daughter if you make it a daily routine. You don’t need to book off an hour, either. Start with 3-5 minutes. Ideally, making it the same time everyday can help get you and your daughter into a routine of talking and listening to each other.
Phones, TV, and social media need to be off. Show your child she’s important by unplugging. Encourage her to do so too. If she has a phone, have her put it in a drawer a few feet away, and put it on silent. I’ve seen many teens distracted by the vibrate alert in their pocket, and your child may be pulled to end her conversation with you because she wants to know what’s happening on her phone.
If she has younger siblings, find a way to redirect them to another activity so they don’t barge in and become intrusive. Better yet, create some distraction-free time for them too. This will help them to understand how important this time is.
2. Strengthen by caring about your child’s interests
When you and your daughter start talking, you may feel the urge to finish the argument that started in the car on the way home from school, or take the opportunity to circle back to that “C” she got in science. If you do that, however, you risk your child shutting down.
You know what your child is interested in: the latest photo on Facebook, the new kid in the class, or her favorite Monday night show. Those are perfect openers! Talk about them! You will be surprised how much you learn about your child by discussing what interests her.
When you have a successful conversation about what interests her, you’re building a foundation of positive rapport that both of you can reflect on when you have to have those tougher conversations. And the best part is it’s reciprocal. Showing your child you care about what she cares about helps her to care about what you care about. The end result will be your child thinking “I can go to my mom about anything because she cares.”
3. Strengthen by knocking it off with the advice
Pre-teens and teens are notorious for thinking what their parents say is ridiculous, even if it is the best advice. But before you can give advice your child needs to first hear that you understand her and that you understand the problem.
Have you ever sat down with a friend, pour your heart out, and then your friend starts in with saying “You know what you should do….” or “Well when that happened to me, I would…”? It wasn’t exactly helpful was it? Did it make you feel like you wanted to talk more about it, or just steer the conversation in another direction?
What did you need to hear instead? I bet it’s more along the lines of “That’s rough, it sounds like that situation really bothered you.” That would just open up the floodgates for you even more, wouldn’t it? That’s the experience you want with your child.
So when should you give advice? When your child asks for it. Listen for words like “So what do you think about…?” or “What should I do about….?”
If she says “I just don’t know what to do” ask before you give advice. My favorite line is: “I have some ideas, would you like to hear them?” If she says no, that’s OK. Go back to empathizing and validating her feelings. This will help your child to open up and ask for help when she’s ready.
And please, make sure you put periods at the end of your sentences. That means take some time to pause and listen to your child. I know you’ve been trained for the last decade or so to guide, teach, and advise your child. However, if your child has shut down, speaking at length is not going to get her to open up. Your words are like an air bubble that’s taking up the whole room. There’s no space for your child to talk! So you have to create the space.
4. Strengthen by staying calm when disagreeing
If you’re not calm when you and your daughter get in a disagreement, you are doing your relationship a disservice. Sit down and ask yourself “When I’m not calm, what am I thinking? What’s preventing me from remaining calm?” Are you triggered by your own experience as a child when your mom got riled up and yelled at you? Do you have difficulty controlling your own emotions in general?
You have to put in the work on yourself so your message is most effectively communicated to your child. This way your child will more likely be guided by your words and less likely to rebel. Not to mention, it will just feel better to stay calm and not spin out of control.
5. Strengthen by talking to your child like you love her
The way you talk to your daughter becomes her inner voice.
From when she was a baby she learned from your tone of voice how to feel about herself.
When you criticize, name call, or use judgmental language, it’s those words that become her inner voice and tell her “I can’t, I’m not good enough, and I’m too dumb.”
But when you talk to your daughter like you love her, even when you are really mad, she learned that it is OK to make mistakes and to try again. Ultimately you are communicating that there is nothing she could do to lose your love.
In addition to talking with love, you need to behave with love. What does that mean? It means modeling respect and courtesy.
Daughters are sponges. The phrase “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t work. So you need to take an assessment of how you talk to your child.
Think through your last argument and the words you said and how you said it. Is that the way you want to be talked to? Would you listen if you were spoken to in that way? If not, try changing your tone, throw in a few more “please” and “thank you’s,” and see how your child’s behavior changes. I bet you it’s for the better!
6. Strengthen by setting boundaries and limits
Boundaries keep your daughter safe both physically and emotionally. When you tell your child what is acceptable to do, and what is not acceptable to do, it’s another form of telling her “I love you and I care what’s going to happen to you.” She may not acknowledge this now but later she will know these limits are meant to keep her safe.
When you set boundaries consistently, and don’t let your daughter break them, you’re helping her to build trust with you. It also teaches your daughter to respect herself by learning how to communicate her boundaries to others. This is necessary for her to have healthy relationships with friends, future partners and even her own children.
7. Strengthen by doing self-care
Ever been on an airplane? You know how they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you help others? Same thing for moms! Your daughter is more likely to thrive when she sees her mom taking care of herself. Other than self-care helping life feel better for you, here’s a few good reasons taking care of yourself is good for your child too:
- You’re modeling self-regulation, which is the ability to handle life’s stressors as they come your way.
- You’re demonstrating good self-esteem, because self-care communicates to your child you are valuable and worthy of taking care of.
- You are working on creating a more calm and focused state, which can improve intellectual and social-emotional intelligence, which helps in all facets of your life. This directly benefits your child as she grows to be a capable young adult.
Bottom line: It’s not easy being a mom. Nor is it easy being a daughter. But the relationship the two of you have lasts a lifetime, not just until she turns 18. Strengthening that bond now can only help the two of you as your relationship continues to grow and develop.
Please comment below: What areas in your relationship with your daughter need strengthening? What can you do to make them stronger?
Jenmarie Eadie is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who is passionate about helping children to become less stressed by giving them and their parents tools, support and encouragement. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Arizona State with a dual concentration in Children, Youth, and Families; and Behavioral Health. Her proudest accomplishment is following her dream of opening up a practice that is designed to focus on the whole family. She currently serves families in Southern California.