Yes, it’s a given that you love your child. But do you maintain a loving relationship on a daily basis? Is your relationship with your child characterized by love and fun or is it all discipline, frustration and loneliness? Do you take the time to have fun with your child or are you constantly trying to “fix” him?
I bring this up for a couple reasons. The first is that there is the perception among the anti-Ezzo community that we Ezzo parents don’t truly feel connected with our children. We let them cry. We make them play in their rooms. We don’t put them in the center of the family. We discipline them. We are not their peers. All of these things are true, but they don’t mean that we don’t love our children or have a loving relationship with them.
I do believe, however, that it can be too easy to fall into a parent-child relationship that lacks fun and affection. Here are some clues that you might need to reevaluate your relationship with your child:
- On a daily basis, you worry that you aren’t doing things right or following the books as closely as you should.
- You tend to be legalistic in your parenting.
- You are on a constant mission to fix your child’s problems.
- You don’t laugh at least once a day.
- Your child seems stressed out and angry.
- You don’t hug or snuggle with your child at least once a day.
- You expect your child to misbehave.
- You feel like all you do all day is discipline your child.
- You feel like your child is trying to frustrate and anger you.
Not only is this unhealthy for you and your child, but a relationship like this can actually cause all the behavior problems you are trying to fix. Imagine it from your child’s perspective. He is the student and you are the teacher. He is constantly getting bad grades, never gets a pat on the back, and doesn’t even get to relax after a long day at school. Your child wants to please you, but if you require too much of him and don’t give him love and affection, he will stop wanting to please you. I know of a couple who completely changed their lives for this reason. They were living a fast-paced life in New York City and gave up everything to live in a small, rural town. They had one reason for doing so: their son had stopped trying to please them. You lose this and you lose everything.
On a more positive note, bringing more fun and affection into your relationship with your child can not only lower your blood pressure and improve your disposition, but it will improve your child’s behaviors. If you think that you tend to be legalistic in your parenting, try easing up for a few days and see if things change. Follow your child’s lead for a little while and see where it takes you. If his behaviors get worse, you can quickly go back to your old ways. But I highly suspect his behaviors will improve and you will be no worse off for experimenting with it.
Here are some ideas to bring some fun and love into your relationship with your child:
- Go out for ice cream and order the same thing he orders. Who knows, maybe choco-peppermint bubblegum ice cream really is good.
- Go for a walk and follow him. Allow him to stop at every twig and rock. Try to see the fascination that he sees. Allow him to stop and sit on the sidewalk just to watch the cars go by. (My son actually does this.)
- Go out for a one-on-one “date” with your child.
- Tickle, hug, wrestle or snuggle with your child every day.
- Make chocolate chip, smiley face pancakes.
- Trace patterns on your child’s bare back with your fingers and have him guess what it is.
- Go to the park and play like a child. Swing on the swings. Go down the slide (head first!). Go on the teeter-totter with him. Play tag.
- Sit and watch your child play. Don’t think about the million things you need to do. Just sit and watch.
- Get messy with your child. Jump in puddles. Play in the mud. Dig in the dirt.
- Play dress-up and act out funny characters. Play the “what animal am I?” game by making animal sounds and acting like your favorite animal.
- Order happy meals for both of you.
- Play hooky on a school day and eat donuts for breakfast.
- Get creative with your activities. Go to the pet store just to look at all the animals. Go to the home improvement store to sit on the “tractors”. Fill a bucket with water and use paintbrushes to “paint” the house. Feed the pigeons.
- Use your imagination. Make “soup” with a little water and leaves. Turn a stick into a magic wand. Throw out your arms and fly like an airplane.
- Go camping in the backyard, marshmallows and all.
- Dance in the living room.
- Get silly!
These are the experiences that childhood memories are made of and that will make your child feel loved. So be sure to fill your lives with them!