Tips for building strong family relationships:
- Build a channel for communication. Every child needs someone to rely on. A parent can be that person by listening without judging and offering positive feedback. Talking things over is far better than acting out.
- Be aware of how your child normally behaves. Sudden changes in feelings and actions are part of a normal child's life. Still, changes that come big and fast can be a warning signal. Watch for drastic changes in friends, grades or mood.
- Make a family contract that sets clear rules for your older child's behavior. Older children like the freedom to choose within a set of simple and secure rules. Discuss and write down a family constitution. Focus future disagreements on the rules, instead of on people. This document should be updated as needed.
- Teach the link between an action and its consequences. Children do learn from their mistakes. Parents can help by allowing children to experience the outcome of their actions within reason. Experiencing small mistakes now could mean avoiding big ones later.
- Wavering is normal. Even "model" children break rules now and then. Learn to look at patterns of behavior. Overreacting to a rare slip-up can damage the trust between parent and child.
- Walk your talk. Children imitate their parents' actions, even later in the teen years. A good way to convince a child not to do something is to quit doing it yourself. Actions speak louder than words.