6 Keys to Improving the Mother-Child Relationship

We'll offer 6 keys to improving the mother-child relationship, regardless of their age. Try putting them into practice with ingenuity!
6 Keys to Improving the Mother-Child Relationship
Laura Ruiz Mitjana

Written and verified by la psicóloga Laura Ruiz Mitjana.

Last update: 03 May, 2023

How can you improve the mother-child relationship? This isn’t always an easy task. It requires putting into practice empathy, patience, and other values that we build throughout life.

Quality relationships in childhood promote healthy development in children. According to a study by Van Aken & Asendorpf (2015), social support has a protective effect on self-esteem.

Furthermore, according to another scientific study, this time by Azpiazua et al. (2014), there’s a direct relationship between social support and emotional intelligence in adolescents.

6 keys to improving the mother-child relationship

The benefits of good accompaniment and good support for our children are innumerable. With perseverance and a lot of love, it’s possible to build a quality relationship with them, in addition to improving it over time. To do this, we’ll leave you with 6 key ideas that can help in this process.

All of them share the same mission: Fostering a type of healthy relationship with children, through understanding and healthy upbringing. Take note!

1. Look for time to spend together

There’s nothing more valuable than giving someone what you’ll never get back: Your time. Although it seems obvious, looking for quality moments to share with the people we love the most isn’t always easy. However, it’s a practice that will help us improve the mother-child relationship.

Depending on age and the type of activities, times and availability will vary. But spending time together is crucial, so you must find spaces to be with your son or daughter, plan activities, or simply be and chat, listen, talk about how the day has gone, etc.

Spending time with our children matters, but above all, it’s quality rather than quantity that matters. When parents spend few moments with their children, they can feel lonely, miss them, and want to share more in daily life. Emotional gaps may be created.

If the situation is prolonged and becomes more intense, psychological needs will appear. Children can be insecure, misunderstood, unprotected, and disoriented. This could lead them to seek identity in other unfamiliar spaces but with less guarantee of positive influences, such as peers.

A mother teaching her child to ride a bike.
The time dedicated to a child is an investment that fosters their self-esteem.

2. Put yourself in their shoes

Empathy allows us to understand others from their position, change perspectives, and lend them a helping hand because we can almost feel their pain, their sadness, or their joy. The same thing happens with children: If you want to strengthen your connection with them, don’t hesitate, put empathy into practice, put yourself in their shoes, and try to have the eyes of a child or teen.

Sometimes it will be difficult for us to support them because we won’t share their beliefs or decisions. However, remembering from time to time that we too were children (or young people) will allow us to get closer to them and make them feel free and supported.

Did you know that part of our genetic variations influence empathy? This is suggested by a study (2018) developed by English and French universities and published in Translational Psychiatry. Beyond this, we know that empathy is something that can also be worked on, learned, and strengthened.

3. Practice a democratic style

There are four types of parenting styles: Authoritarian, permissive, democratic, and negligent or indifferent. Of the four, the one that’s most beneficial for the psychological and emotional development of children is the democratic style.

Therefore, the style combines firmness and discipline with support and affection. Parents set limits for their children but also consider their point of view with empathy. That is, they’re firm but flexible. In addition, they explain the consequences of negative behaviors and teach them alternative ways to behave.

Practicing this educational style will allow you to improve your relationship with your children, as you accompany them in their growth and development and them the freedom to make their own choices. In addition, you’ll boost their autonomy and self-esteem, while you lend them a hand when they need it.

“Education is the movement from darkness to light.”

-Allan Bloom-

4. Avoid judgment

It’s clear that the ideas our children have or the decisions they make won’t always please us. But that’s okay, they have to grow, differentiate, and acquire their autonomy. Judging them isn’t going to help them–quite the contrary; it can make them distance themselves from you.

So, another key idea to improve the mother-child relationship isn’t to judge them. Simply accompany them in their decisions. This doesn’t imply accepting everything they do without opposition. We must also set limits and convey our opinions to them if we see that they’re not acting well or they’re putting themselves in harm’s way. Of course, while doing this, we must remain empathetic and open to listening.

5. Get down on their level

Especially with young children, getting down on their level, physically speaking, is an action that helps to better connect with them and to help them feel accompanied in a face-to-face relationship. If your child is young, sit next to them and look into their eyes.

For children, the fact that we’re old and, above all, much taller, can sometimes cause distance or disconnection because they see us as far away. In order to keep this from happening, put yourself at their height.

In the case of older children, you can do the same. For example, if your child is sitting down and you want to talk to them, sit next to them or in front of them, looking at them face to face to encourage active listening and empathy.

A mother looks into the eyes of a child who's starting school.
Getting to the physical height of the children is a concrete practice that brings the bond closer.

6. Be flexible

In line with what we were saying about a democratic educational style, another point to improve the relationship between mother and child is to show flexibility. Flexibility implies understanding that not all of your child’s actions are rebellious. Sometimes it’s okay to let them make some mistakes.

We’re not talking about a laissez-faire style (letting them do whatever they want), but rather about accepting some behaviors while setting limits regarding others, promoting their autonomy and empowerment. This will make your child feel free but accompanied, with enough confidence to come to you when needed. In addition, using excessive control with children can lead to rebellious behavior in them and lead to conflicts.

“The most beautiful souls are those that are provided with the greatest variety and flexibility.”

-Michel de Montaigne-

Intuition as an ally when it comes to improving the mother-child relationship

In the above article, we’ve seen some ideas there to improve the relationship between mother and child, although there are many more options that you’ll discover in your journey as a mother. Many of these ideas will arise out of pure intuition and others by trial and error. In fact, intuition is a great ally during motherhood, so don’t stop putting it into practice!

  • Borchardt, L. (2017). Apoyo social y autoestima. Un abordaje desde el modelo y la teoría de los cinco factores. Psocial, 3(1): 29-38.
  • Van Aken, M., & Asendorpf, J. (2015). Support by parents, classmates, friends and sibilings in preadolescence: covariation and compensation across relationships. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 14(1), 79–93.
  • Warrier, V. et al. (2018). Genome-wide analyses of self-reported empathy: correlations with autism, schizophrenia, and anorexia nervosa. Translational Psychiatry, 8(35).

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