Show me any two people who have fun together frequently and I’ll show you a good relationship. People who have regular fun together like each other and most often respect one another. This is a winning combination when it comes to the parent/child relationship. If both parties feel good around each other there will be less animosity, anger, resentment and discord and more ease, comfort, respect, and happiness. To like your kids you must enjoy them regularly and there is nothing like one on one fun experiences. And for them to respond positively to your discipline they must enjoy and like you.
Unfortunately, in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, many of the daily experiences between parent and child go something like this:
- “Time to get up.”
- “Here’s your breakfast. No TV until you’re done.”
- “Got your backpack?”
- “You don’t have time to play with the dog.”
- “Come on, we’re in a hurry!”
- “Don’t forget your coat.”
- “Love you, bye!”
- “How was your day? Got any homework?”
- “Leave your brother alone!”
- “You have to finish your vegetables if you want dessert.”
- “You can play outside for 1 hour. I want you back by 8 o’clock for bed.”
- “Did you brush your teeth?” Goodnight.”
Now, how much mutual enjoyment took place on this day? None. The parent saw the child as a bundle of unpleasant tasks, and the child saw the parent as a bundle of directions. No relationship can remain healthy when this kind of interaction is the only feeding it gets.
The antidote? FUN!
When I interviewed over a thousand children around the world as to what it is that their mother or father does for them that makes them feel totally happy and loved they said, “Spending fun one-on-one time with me.”
The possibilities or shared one on one fun experiences are endless so listed below is a list I’ve compiled over the years after talking to children and families.
- Going out for dinner on a school night while everyone else stays home
- Watching to a movie
- Going shopping
- Enjoy a bike ride
- Reading a novel aloud to them
- Finger painting
- Baking cookies
- Playing card/board games
- Going for a walk in the park
- Going swimming
- Doing a collection together (stamps, coins, dolls)
- Visiting a museum
- Planting a flower or vegetable together
Shared fun can also come in little doses throughout the day while talking, listening, expressing affection or telling jokes. The impact of these small things is astounding. Let’s redo the scenario described above to illustrate this point. This time, let’s put some FUN into it!
- “Unfortunately, sleepyhead, it’s time to get up.” Dad rubs child’s back.
- “After you demolish your breakfast, you can watch a little TV.”
- “Got your three-ton book bag?”
- “Rufus sure likes you. Okay, let’ get outta here!”
- “You’re moving quicker than I am this morning!”
- “Good job remembering your coat, lovebug.”
- “Love you, bye!”
- “What was the most fun part of your day?”
- “Alan, your brother asked you to stop. We don’t bug each other like that.”
- “Only 1 more piece of broccoli, my sweet, and then we can enjoy a nice dessert together.”
- “You can go to Ryan’s house for one hour until 8 o’clock. Have a great time!”
- “Hey, welcome home, lovebug! Let’s head on up to the bathroom to brush those teeth.”
- “Goodnight. I love you. See you in the morning.”
Lightening up, adding humor and spending some one-on-one time with each child each month is one of the biggest secrets to having a wonderful family life that doesn’t include a lot of stress and need for discipline. Try it and see the difference it can make! Your children will love you for it.