For a child, its parents are the protective factors in this strange world.

Every child needs healthy relationships with both parents. The kind of relationship that a child has with his parents affects his thinking, behaviour, and even his way of life.

Positive parenting can beget positive emotions in the child. Poor quality parent interactions with the child can cause undesired behaviour to develop. This is why a strain in the parent-child relationship should be avoided at all costs.

Reasons why a parent and child relationship can get strained.

The parent and child relationship evolves at every stage of the child’s life. When it is put to test in many real-life situations, this relationship gets strained.

The age, attitude, thinking, beliefs, and even the gender identity of a parent affect the child. To counter this, the child’s nature and physical health can also affect the parent.

Yet, by and large, it becomes the responsibility of the parent to relieve this strain and improve the relationship quality with the child.

Ways to resolve the strain in a parent-child relationship

To start with, following these steps recommended by an experienced psychiatrist will help.

Improve communication

Poor communication skills are often to blame for a strained parent-child relationship. Sometimes, parents find it difficult to express their thoughts to their children. On the other hand, children might find it tough to maintain even eye contact with a dominating parent. Breaking this barrier and opening up the channels of communication can develop positive outcomes for children.

Parents must allocate time to spend with their children. This time must be spent listening, playing, and interacting with them to understand them better. Lending a patient ear to your child and holding their hand can help them cope with their difficult transitions in life.

Build trust and show empathy

A lack of parental empathy and understanding is the reason behind a pattern of behaviour problems in children.

When a child is in an emotional situation, what he needs is empathy. When parents do not empathize with or trust teenagers, they exhibit individual self-injury behaviour.

Even at school, common problem behaviour is exhibited by children who are not understood by their teachers or peers. Children who exhibit Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder are often misunderstood by parents. This lack of trust and empathy can become a major risk factor for a child’s mental health.

Parents should try to understand the child’s situation. Instead of criticizing or ridiculing, they must explain to children where they are going wrong.

Trust and understanding are skills parents should cultivate to instil normal behaviour in their children.

Practice and teach Emotional self-regulation skills

Children face a variety of situations in life without knowing how to handle them. When they undergo difficult emotions, they might demonstrate challenging behaviours. Parents, teachers, and family must teach children emotional self-regulation skills to cope with stress and adversity in life.

Poor self-regulation skills create anxiety-inducing situations. Not knowing how to control anger makes children develop aggressive or disruptive behaviour. One cannot admit this kind of behaviour at school, at home, or in public places. To avoid such negative emotions, emotion regulation strategies will help.

Parents should practice self-restraint in difficult situations. They should never lose control and deliver corporal punishment to children.

Training for parents is a must to help them teach children how to control their emotions.

Adopt Positive Parenting Skills

Child behaviours are often the reflection of parenting styles.

There are 4 main types of parenting styles- authoritarian, permissive, neglectful, and authoritative. Of these, the authoritative style is considered to be positive parenting. This is because it allows children the authority to act and asks them to take ownership of the actions.

A child who exhibits defiant behaviour might have an authoritarian parent. He can also exhibit negative behaviour patterns like aggression, assault, etc. Children show impulsive behaviour as the result of neglectful or uninvolved parenting.

A functional behaviour assessment by a child psychiatrist will be able to define your parenting style and the child’s behaviour. Such assessments conducted from time to time can help parents prevent adolescents’ self-injury behaviour.

Only the right kind of parenting will encourage pro-social behaviour in a child. So, parents should attend a positive parenting program and behaviour therapy to nurture the right parenting style.

Enforce gentle discipline

From childhood, parents should draw lines and lay some ground rules for child behaviour. Instead of thrusting rules, parents should try to educate children on the importance of discipline gently.

Gentle discipline is always a must for school-specific behaviour management strategies. To train kids in discipline, parents must draw a timetable with homework time, play times, etc. Try to incentivize homework by offering extra screen time on its completion.

Parents should work out a formula for time-outs like the time-out chair after discussing it with fellow parents Pediatricians and child psychiatrists suggest the use of the time-out chair to curb verbal retorts and physical aggression.

Create an atmosphere of love and support

Children offer resistance to transitions in life. The best option for families and parents to reduce conflicts with children is to create an environment of unconditional love and support.

Family behavioural therapy insists on family support and cooperation between parents in handling children.

This kind of love is especially needed for kids with autism spectrum disorders. Every autistic child needs complete support from parents and social workers in developing their social skills and achieving school behaviour goals.

Impact of parent behaviour on children

Some children suffer from mental health disorders like defiant disorders or disruptive mood dysregulation disorders from an early age. The underlying cause for these illnesses is often parent behaviour.

Adverse parent behaviour can cause negative outcomes in a child’s life. This is where a behaviour intervention plan is much needed. Parents should consult a family psychiatrist and attend a positive parenting program.

Parents learn child management strategies like ignoring, redirecting, calming, and problem-solving in training programs. Children can also attend alternative programs where they understand the natural consequences and delayed consequences of their actions.

These kinds of parent training will help them support the kids in time before they develop any mental issues.

Consulting a child mental health professional is ideal to overcome family dynamics. The psychiatrist suggests a treatment plan like family therapy, individual therapy, etc. The specialist monitors the symptoms from time to time and presents periodic reports. What might take years to heal will get cured within months of treatment by consulting the right mental health specialist.

Working together with love, respect, and understanding, parents, and children can reduce the strain on their relationships. Use the above tips to nurture healthy parent and child relationships. If you need more tips or counselling on a strained parental relationship, get in touch with Dr. Sagnik Mukherjee, who is one of the best psychiatrists in Kolkata.