How to build a healthy parent-child relationship

In her book, Connected Parenting, family therapist Jennifer Kolari encourages parents to become more emotionally attuned to their kids. Kolari believes that correcting and guiding children’s behaviour works best when the parent operates from a position of openness, kindness and empathy – rather than from a position of anger and frustration.

Kolari explains that we are best placed to help children develop skills to manage their own behaviour when we meet their emotional needs. She believes that a tough, heavy-handed approach to discipline usually exacerbates cycles of misbehaviour and escalates anxiety.

The Connected Parenting philosophy aims to teach parents ways of empathetically responding to children in a step-by-step manner. Kolari’s CALM strategy is the cornerstone of her book and shows parents how to:

Connect – by giving undivided attention to the child (eye contact, leaning forward when communicating, looking involved)

Affect – by matching the facial expressions and body language of the child

Listen – by using the child’s words to show that you are really listening

Mirror – by reflecting back on the child’s emotional perspective to show them understanding and acceptance.


Kolari’s parenting philosophy also includes strategies for repairing strained parent-child relationships and other useful strategies for dealing with day-to-day challenges, such as bedtime and homework.

For more information on Connected Parenting and on Jennifer Kolari, visit