I love you rituals
When parents come to consult a psychotherapist or counselor to help them handle their children they are often at a point where they feel that parenting has become a hassle where rewards are few and far in between. They experience their children as insisting with requests, that never seem to be satisfied, and which once satisfied, just seem to create more of them; and they resents themselves having to nag, repeat themselves without being listened to.
It boils down to the following points: neither child nor parent feels 'listened' to by the other, the tendency to take a child's requests at face value, the tendency to focus on the behavior by reacting to it, vs responding what might be behind the behavior or the child's request. A child can ask for a cookie, but might just want to spend some time with you. Requests that insist might be just ways of the child to engage the parent.
It can be hard to tackle all these issues at the same time, but the Child Centered Activity which I mentioned in an earlier post is a great starting point. It will introduce some time to just be in eachother's company and where you can reflect on your child and on yourself just being in the presence of your child. It seems easy, but it can bring about some strong affects. As I mentioned before, just spending a little bit of time like this every day can bring about a major change in how your child will engage with you. The child is typically very appreciative of this kind of time spent together.
As a preschool teacher I have also experienced that introducing little pleasurable one on one interactions with your child can do wonders. They can also make transitions which can be sometimes hard for a child a lot easier. Nursery rhymes and songs are key here. I would refer you to a book by Becky Bailey, 'I love you rituals.' It has a lot of nursery rhymes and little fun games to play with your young child. Sometimes she has cleaned up the original nursery rhyme which she felt was too violent or not as loving enough, with more loving words. Becky will not let the cradle fall down with baby and all. I disagree with her on this. Working as a therapist with young children, I know that the inner world of the young child is not as idyllic as we adults like to believe it. I think it is actually a nice message to have a nursery rhyme that might be somewhat violent in content, but where the violence is tempered by the rythmic, loving, playful tone of the parent. It sends the message that we do not have to be afraid of those cruel, and aggressive ideas that might sometimes pop in our heads. It sends the message that we can handle them, we can play with them. In Becky Bailey's approach it seems that this darker side is unnecessarily locked out.