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Building Rapport with your Child

Updated: Apr 5, 2023

What does this mean? Why is this necessary? How do you do this?


This can be easily one of the many components that is 'lost' when you have a 'difficult child'. Over time, you grow exhausted, resentful, and lose that parent-child positive relationship. During my first parent training webinar, we discussed the "building blocks" for your home. This is one of the first components to that: building your rapport with your child.


For building rapport we want to:

  • Create a genuine relationship.

  • Establish trust, connection and respect.

  • Be mindful that respect goes both ways.

  • Become a reinforcer for your child.


Just imagine: going to work all day long and your boss speaks to you in a negative way, critiquing everything you do. He also speaks behind your back to others, gossiping on your work (or lack thereof), and makes promises he never keeps. Over time, you start to dread going to work. It has becoming a punishing environment. You start to 'push back' in your own way, maybe quietly and passive aggressively at first. Then in more purposeful, loud ways you start to have behaviors toward your boss: Gossiping to your coworkers how much you dislike him, hate him even. This all gets back to your boss and you end up getting fired.


Sounds like a pretty awful situation right? Change the situation a bit and replace boss with parent, coworkers with siblings and pretend we are speaking about your child and home. Does this sound like your home? Has your child started to push back and have behaviors? Over time this happens slowly and somewhat methodically. Reinforcing behaviors that you do not realize you are reinforcing. Perhaps you were speaking with your husband or wife about. your child's behaviors and they overheard? (Just for clarification, I'm not saying all this happens to every family. This is an extreme example.)


If this resonates with you, or pieces of it resonates, it is time to repair your relationship with your child. Your child may be younger, or older, and it can be applied to all ages.


Start Here: be a good person to your child.


Definition of good: having admirable, pleasing, superior, or positive qualities. Sounds unattainable, right? Am I saying this 'good' will happen daily? No. Some days are HARD. Some day you are exhausted. That is normal and that is OK. Strive to be better the next day. Even if you give 60% on that particular day, that is still 100% of your capabilities. Remember, it is a developmental journey for you as a parent just as it is for your child.


How to strive to be good:


FUN / CRITIQUE: Be 75% fun. Be fun, be silly during the 75%. Learn their preferences, learn their reinforcers. Utilize those reinforcers to change behavior. (We will discuss this more later).

During the 25% critique: do not only focus on the negative. Work on "sandwiching" your critique. Positive statements surrounding the negative statements. For every negative statement, say 3 positive statements.


COMMUNICATION: Your words matter. Your body language matters. Your actions matter. Ask for respect from your child. But also, respect your child. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard: "my child cusses at me and is so disrespectful!" In the next breath: "Billy, pick up your d*** stuff!"


Children learn through imitation. Respect goes both ways!


"The way you speak to your child matters, for those words travel beyond their ears, settling into the creases of their hearts and the crevices of their self-worth". - Angela Pruess


I challenge you to work on this within your home. In my next blog post we will discuss more of the tips and tricks to continue to build rapport and your relationship with your child. If you can work to create this powerful bond with your child, you can in turn become their reinforcer which will help to work on decreasing behaviors.


"Trying to change behavior without connection is like trying to open a door without a key. You might get it open, but there will be damage." -The Therapist Parent


Happy Behavior Change!

-Deborah

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