Skip to main content


Visit our coronavirus page for information and advice

Building a rewarding relationship with your child

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding jobs in the world but it takes time and patience to build your relationship with your child, here are our tips to help.

Creating a loving relationship with your child

The better you and your child get on the less likely you are to argue. It isn’t always easy, and takes time and energy which can be in short supply when you’re a parent. Just getting through the day is a mission in itself. But there are things you can do to help.

  • Talk when you’re travelling. A walk to school or trip in the car is a great time to ask them questions and find out what they are interested in. 
  • Ask their opinion. Giving them the freedom to choose some things lets them know you value what they think.
  • See things from their point of view. Remember how it felt to be a child - it might help you understand them better.
  • Think of fun things you can do together. You might be busy keeping the household going, but make time to have a laugh and play games with them when you can.
photo of child being cuddled by parent

photo of child being cuddled by parent

Rules and rewards

It can be difficult knowing how strict or relaxed to be with your child. But the most important thing is to be consistent. We all want our children to be happy, but giving them too much of what they want doesn’t help. Boundaries help them feel safe, even if they don’t know it. Here are some tips on creating clear rules and rewards with your child:

  • Set clear house rules. Make sure they know what is off limits like hitting, shouting, or using screens at meal times.
  • Set clear consequences. If you react fairly and in the same way whenever they do something wrong, they’re more likely to stop doing it.
  • Remember to notice when they’re being good. It's often easier to notice when they’re bad than when they’re good, but try to pay attention to the smaller good things they do. Like hanging their coat up, or saying please and thank you.
  • Recognise good behaviour. Letting your child know they were good with a hug or some praise will make them feel good.
  • Set clear rewards. It's important to be consistent when they’re being good, so don’t be tempted to give extra rewards. Having these in place helps everyone not to spoil them.
animation of happy child

animation of happy child

What parents say

“My kids are meant to tidy their rooms every weekend. If they do, we watch a family movie on Sunday evening. If they don’t, it’s early to bed!”

“We have a ‘no phones when we’re eating’ rule – if you break the rule, you have to do the dishes. This applies to grown-ups as well as kids.”

“We use sticker charts – my three-year-old loves collecting stickers, so that’s a reward on its own!”

animation of parent speaking

animation of parent speaking

Looking after yourself

When we’re busy raising children we often put ourselves last. But it is easier to look after them if we look after ourselves too. Here are somethings you can do to help yourself:

  • Talk to your partner, friends, or family. It helps to talk about how you’re feeling. Speaking to other adults can help give you perspective and they might have advice to offer as well.
  • Make time just for you each week. It’s important to take some time for you. It could be a bath, a movie you want to watch, or having a cup of tea with a pal.
  • Try to get enough sleep. This might feel impossible at times, but even going to bed a little earlier could make a difference.
  • Stay active. You don’t need to join a gym, a walk helps to keep your body and mind active and reduce your stress.

Remember that you’re not alone –all of us struggle from time to time. Talk to someone you trust, like a partner, friend, family member, health visitor or your GP. If you don’t want to talk to someone you know, you can also chat to Parentline.

What if I don’t get it right?

Staying calm when you’re wound up takes practice, so don’t be hard on yourself if you don’t always get it right. If you do end up losing your temper, make sure you say sorry to your child afterwards. This sets a good example for them.

Remember that you’re not alone – all of us struggle from time to time. Talk to someone you trust, like a partner, friend, family member, health visitor or your GP. If you don’t want to talk to someone you know, you can also chat to Parentline.

Free online parenting course

While we know you may be under different pressures right now, you might be interested in looking at this free online parenting course for parents and carers of children aged 0 to 19. The course aims to help parents and carers understand their child’s development, support them emotionally and improve their relationship. For more details and to sign up visit and use the code ‘tartan’ to gain free access.