Here are five suggestions for improving relationships—with youth and adults alike.
- First, give affirmations. A simple acknowledgement can have dramatic results. This is especially important with young people. They want to assert their independence and autonomy. Just acknowledging that you have heard their point of view, regardless of agreement, can have a profound effect on how your growing young one feels about the relationship.
- Second, use quality listening time. Quality time is quality-driven, not necessarily quantity-driven. Simply give your full attention to the person speaking. By using eye contact, a nod now and then, and occasionally interjecting a clarification communicates that you are “with” the person—that you are not only listening but hearing what the person is saying.
- Third, share quality activity time. Engage in activities together that are enjoyable. Walking and talking; watching the same video, DVD, or movie; eating out. These are simple approaches to togetherness.
- Fourth, perform an act of service. Cleaning the table or other ways of assistance in household chores, helping to take in the groceries, making that extra cup of coffee in the morning in case your mate would like it are all simple and easy examples.
- Fifth, give gifts. Gifts do not necessarily have to be tangible. Certainly a dozen roses, a fine dinner out, or a new toy are welcome, but not necessary. Try touching; give a pat on the shoulder; a rub down the back; or a hug or kiss. These are gifts—both to yourself and to the other person.
Just remember that relationships are emotion-driven as well as cognition-driven and that it is the little things in life that really mean the most to all of us.