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When I work with clients on parenting, the first thing we tackle is improving their relationship with their kids. There is always some healing to be done here, and as we heal this relationship, every parent-child interaction gets easier.

Fortunately, the solution is incredibly simple.

Here it is: Think loving thoughts about your child.

Notice I didn't say to love your child. You already love your child. I said to think loving thoughts about your child.

Here are some examples of thoughts that seem useful -- they may seem TRUE -- but they are judgmental instead of loving, and they eat away at your relationship and ultimately make your life harder:

"My child is so disorganized."

"My child isn't getting the grades I know she could if she would just study."

"My son doesn't have any friends."

"My daughter is difficult."

"My son is ruining his life."

"My daughter never puts her laundry away."

"My daughter spends too much time on social media."

"If only my son would stop playing video games."

"If only my son would get out of bed and DO something."

Drop any one of those thoughts into a model, and I promise the result you get is one you don't want. A good judge of whether a thought is nourishing for your relationship or damaging is to ask yourself how it makes you feel. Any thought that produces a negative feeling is going to have a negative impact on your relationship.

Let's look at a model.

C: My daughter has 100 papers loose in her backpack. Some are folded and crumpled.

T: "My daughter is so disorganized."

F: Frustration

A: Tell child to clean out backpack in an exasperated voice. Judge child. Judge self for not teaching child correctly. Ruminate on how this is going to cause her trouble for her entire life.

R: You create disconnection and resentment in your relationship with your child.

But what if instead of "my daughter is so disorganized" you thought, "I wonder if this bothers her."

C: My daughter has 100 papers loose in her backpack. Some are folded and crumpled.

T: "I wonder if this bothers her."

F: Love

A: Say to daughter, "How do you feel about the papers in your backpack? Does that work for you, or would you like to try out some different ways to organize the papers to see if there's something that could make things easier." Have a conversation with daughter. Listen carefully.

R: Build connection with daughter. You learn to love an understand daughter more.

While this solution to think loving thoughts about your children is simple, it is not easy.

Our brains have spent a lifetime developing thought habits that create disconnection. And knowing that you simply need to think loving thoughts about your child does not change that.

This is what I find really helps my clients when their brain starts populating with thoughts that make them feel bad.

I tell them to ask themselves, "How can I think about this in a way that makes me feel love?"

This provides them some immediate relief and sets their brain down a path of loving connection rather than judgment.

But it takes practice, time, and often coaching to rewire your brain and make loving thoughts your default response.

As you change the way you think about your child, your relationship will begin to heal. And because human brains mirror each other, your child's default responses will also begin to go to love more frequently.

When our thoughts and feelings change, our behaviors change. But don't sit around wishing for your child to change. YOU change first, and your child will follow.

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