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Signs of a Bad Relationship With Your Kids

by K. Nola Mokeyane, studioD

A poor parent-child relationship is one of five adverse childhood experiences that can have a lasting effect on a child's mental and physical health, says family therapist Michael Ungar, writing at "Psychology Today." Nurturing a healthy relationship between you and your children happens over time, reports the Child Welfare Information Gateway website, but the earlier you can cultivate a healthy relationship between yourself and your kids, the better it will be for your children.

Poor Communication

Healthy, effective communication is essential between parents and children. Effective communication helps families build trust and connectedness, and is necessary to resolve conflicts, according to the Help Guide website. Poor communication in families can manifest as giving the "silent treatment" when a member of the family is upset, or yelling at others when expressing anger or frustration. HealthyChildren.org suggests parents seek to identify the underlying causes of poor communication between them and their kids so they know where to start to fix the problem. Consider developmental concerns such as nagging or being judgmental of older, school-aged kids and preteens. You might need to adjust your parenting and communication style to meet the needs of your growing children. If you and your kids have a tendency to resolve conflicts by slamming doors, making threats and calling names, you'll need to learn effective conflict resolution techniques such as active listening and anger management to improve your communication.


A surefire sign that you have a poor relationship with your children is if any of you uses violence toward each other. Children who witness violence in the home such as domestic violence toward a spouse can suffer developmental and emotional difficulties comparable to the challenges experienced by actual victims, reports the Child Welfare Information Gateway website. As children also learn from the examples set by their parents, they are also likely to model violent behavior displayed by parents in the home. Effective communication, conflict resolution and anger- management skills are all vital tools to help eliminate violent responses to anger, frustration and other difficult emotions. Parents are encouraged to seek healthy ways to resolve conflicts to set better examples for their children.

Behavioral Problems

The Successful Parent website, an online mental health resource, says that signs of a bad relationship between you and your kids might manifest as behavioral problems in your children. Negative behaviors such as aggression, defiance, disrespect and attention-seeking indicate that something might be awry at home. Children who haven't developed effective communication with their parents might resort to aggressive behaviors when they're experiencing anger or sadness. Other signs include overly whiny or attention-seeking behavior, being withdrawn or being passive. According to the Successful Parent website, spending quality time with your children and giving them the attention they need is the most essential step in correcting these behaviors. Engaging your kids in play activities and encouraging open and honest communication in your relationship will also help to redirect these negative behaviors.

Unaware of Children's Interests

If you don't know much about your children's interests and favorite things, it could indicate a poor parent-child relationship, according to the Successful Parent website. Having knowledge of your children's likes and dislikes sends the message that you care about their interests and want to help them nurture them. Giving little to no attention to your children might signal to your kids that they aren't valuable to you, which could significantly diminish their self-esteem. Take the time to get to know them over dinner, special outings or any activity where they will receive your full attention. Don't make getting to know your kids a special event; make consistent efforts to connect with them, over chores, dinner and rides to school.

About the Author

K. Nola Mokeyane has written professionally since 2006, and has contributed to various online publications, including "Global Post" and Modern Mom. Nola enjoys writing about health, wellness and spirituality. She is a member of the Atlanta Writer's Club.

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