Ways To Strengthen Your Connection With Your Child
We all crave those close moments with our children that makes us feel truly connected. Connection is as essential to us as parents as it is to our children. When our relationship is strong, we receive as much as we give. That's what makes parenting worth all the sacrifices.
That connection is also the only reason children willingly follow our rules. Children who feel strongly connected to their parents WANT to cooperate if they can. They'll still act like little ones, which means their emotions will still get the better of them. But, when they trust us to understand, to be on their side, they're motivated to follow our lead when they can.
Researchers remind us that we need five positive interactions to every negative interaction to keep any relationship healthy. And since we spend so much time correcting, reminding, scolding, criticizing, nagging, and shouting - it's important to make sure we spend five times as much time nurturing a positive connection.
But we're only human. There are days when all we can do is meet our children's most basic needs. And that’s okay.
Here are 10 habits that don't add time to your day, but do add connection and could change your life.
Aim for 12 hugs every day
As family therapist Virginia Satir famously said, "We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth."
Snuggle your little one first thing in the morning for a few minutes, and last thing at night. Hug when you say goodbye when you're reunited. Play with their hair, pat backs, rub shoulders. Make eye contact and smile, which is a different kind of touch. If your tween rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realise that with older kids you have to ease into the connection. Get her settled with a drink, and chat as you give her a small rub or her arm, or a play with her hair.
Laugh and play
Laughter and rough-play keep you connected with your child by stimulating endorphins and oxytocin in both of you. Making laughter a daily habit also gives your child a chance to laugh out the anxieties and upsets that otherwise make him feel disconnected and more likely to act out.
Turn off technology when you interact with your child
Really. Your child will remember for the rest of their life that they were important enough to their parents that they turned off their phone to listen. Even turning off music in the car can be a powerful invitation to connect, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids (and adults) are more likely to open up and share.
Make time for one on one time
Do whatever you need to do to schedule 15 minutes with each of your children, separately, every day. Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want during that time. What really matters is your undivided attention, even just for 15 minutes.
Listen and empathize
Connection starts with listening. Bite your tongue if you need to, except to say, "Wow!... that’s really interesting... How was that for you?... Tell me more..."
The habit of seeing things from your child's perspective will ensure that you treat them with respect and look for win/win solutions. It will help you see the reasons for behaviour that would otherwise drive you mad.
Slow down and try live in the moment
You aren't just rushing your child through the schedule so you can spend a few minutes with them before bed. Every interaction all day long is an opportunity to connect. Slow down and share the moment with your child: Let them smell the strawberries before you put them in the smoothie.
When you're helping them wash their little hands, put yours in the running water too, and share the cool rush of the water. Smell their hair. Listen to their laugh.
Written by Laura Doyle staff writer at FFHQ who also blogs at www.lovelifeandlittleones.com.