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Building healthy relationships with our children

By Kyriacos Kiliaris

While shopping in the neighbourhood supermarket the other day, I saw one of my neighbours with her four-year-old daughter also doing their shopping. Out of the blue, the child just burst into tears shouting that she wanted a Minnie Mouse yoghurt. Apparently, the store only carried the Mickey Mouse variety…

The mother started shouting at the kid and dragging her off to leave the store. “Typical,” I thought, rushing to criticise the mother. Not that I haven’t been there myself, I have two little terrors of my own after all…

However, the incident did get me thinking, how far can these kinds of reactions take you? Will we be able to build healthy relationships with our children while reacting in such a manner to their whims?

After all, we are not talking about something we bought in a store the other day. The child is not ours to do with as we please.

There are those who say we must treat children as equals. Is that possible?

What is equality?

As I perceive it, equality has more to do with access. For example, if there is a DVD on the table, everyone in the house should have the right to access it and watch it, right? Well, yes, if the film is Disney’s Cars or Planes, then sure, I would definitely want to watch it. But if the film is a thriller or a horror movie then my right to access the film cannot be equal with my four-year-old son’s. The child must be protected.

Giving a four-year-old an equal say in choosing the new house we are going to move into, doesn’t sound like a good idea either…

I rather believe that relationships with our children should be built on fairness rather than equality. And fairness, or justice if you wish, demands that children are treated in a more privileged manner.

Especially when it comes to infants. Those little creatures are always right, you cannot argue with them. If he/she feels like it, she will do it in her diaper, if not, she will do it on your new couch! As they grow a bit older, they start doing all sorts of crazy stuff… And as parents, we have to be calm and patient and try to find the reason behind their actions, if there is one.

Children, especially babies, don’t respond well to nervous reactions. A baby as small as your fist is able to sense your nervousness. The result will only be that the child reacts negatively, causing more distress for you and for them.

Like I said before, we need to be patient and look for the reason behind their actions. But above all, I believe that we must have in mind that bringing up children is an opportunity.

Our children are still innocent souls. Bringing up kids means preparing them as future grown-ups. Let’s take the opportunity to make them better people than who we are today – more intelligent, more capable of building healthy relationships with the people around them and the environment.

Let’s start building healthier relationships with our children, the adults of tomorrow. Let’s not just take them to the park and let them play. That is important, too, of course. But it is even more important to actually spend time with our children, playing together, watching a film we both can enjoy or drawing a picture together. These kinds of activities will give the child more stability than you could ever imagine, laying the basis for a healthier and fairer relationship.

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