Parent-Child Problems

Building and maintaining a relationship with a child takes work. Even the most loving parents must put a lot of time and effort into developing positive relationships with their children. Yet parents can still have problems with their children, even if they’ve done everything they can to avoid them. When problems arise, don’t spend time lamenting the broken relationship. Instead, take the necessary steps to fix the problems, and start rebuilding a healthy relationships with your children. Whether the children are four or fourteen, it’s not too late to start to make the relationship right.

While there’s no recipe for building a healthy parent/child relationship, parents can do a few things to help build a positive relationship and prevent many of the common relationship problems.

  • Parents should communicate with their children, encouraging their children to express their emotions and share their needs.
  • Parents should provide for their children, meeting both their physical and emotional needs.
  • Parents should provide consistent discipline, setting healthy boundaries and making sure kids follow them.


Children who do not respect their parents often show their lack of respect by failing to obey their parents or showing a disregard for their emotions and feelings. This lack of respect may transfer to a child’s self-respect, causing him to make bad choices. It may also transfer to how a child respects others, making him treat others poorly. While sometimes a lack of respect simply comes as kids begin to rely less on their parents and more on the world, parents can continue to foster a sense of respect by:

  • Setting rules and following up with reasonable consequences
  • Showing respect to their children
  • Modeling respect when interacting with others
  • Parenting with confidence; make a decision and stick to it

A lack of communication can be one of the most frustrating problems for both parents and children. Parents feel like their children don’t listen to a word they say, while children feel like their parents don’t understand them or never take the time to listen. When this happens, instead of working harder to communicate, parents and kids often stop communicating entirely, leading to anger, sadness and a host of other negative emotions.

Parents who have trouble getting their kids to listen should follow a few guidelines when talking to their kids:

  • Get on the child’s level
  • Use positive phrasing
  • Offer choices
  • Keep it short
  • Stay calm

Parents whose children complain they never listen to them should:

  • Regularly take time to let children talk
  • Avoid responding with strong emotion
  • Focus on the child’s interests and feelings
  • Give children full attention while they’re talking
  • Not all physical and verbal abuse leads to hospital visits, nor does it always take place in the open. In fact, even good parents can occasionally be guilty of abuse. They may hit a child or inflict pain on a child during a moment of stress. Other parents may use words to demean their children, regularly putting them down, yelling at them, or telling them they are not good enough. While an abusive parent may not always recognize that he is being abusive, there are few things parents can do to stop abuse should it happen:
    • Look for signs of fear when a child approaches
    • Listen to a child and stop negative behaviors if a child cries or says she is hurt
    • Pay attention to other adults who express concerns
    • Take a moment to step away and breathe when tempted to act out of anger
    • Use only positive words and phrases when talking with children
    • Ask for helpRebuilding a positive relationship with a child takes three main components: love, structure, and time. “Kids need a balance of things in order to grow and thrive. They need love and warmth and they also need structure and consistency. Frequently, when parents and children report feeling dissatisfied with their relationships with each other, the balance between love and warmth and structure and consistency is thrown off. Kids also need time from their parents and they need to know that they will have time from their parents when they need it,” says Tebben.

      Solving Your Problems

      While some parent/child relationship problems may require a professional, such as a social worker or counselor, to step in, most parents and children can solve their problems on their own. Parents need to communicate to their children that they love them and that they have their best interests at heart. They also need to take the time to interact with their children, figure out what may be at the root of the problem, and also give children time to share their emotions and needs. When parents and children take the time to communicate with one another regularly and act out of the mutual love they have for one another, most problems will become temporary obstacles rather than major roadblocks in the relationship.