I originally posted to article over at Lowcountry Parent a few weeks ago but thought it should find a home over here too because these 8 ways to gain trust and connection between you and your kids are so easy and so d0-able and can make a huge difference in your relationship and the mood of your days. If you like these kids, check out Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids by Dr. Laura Markham – this book continues to be one of my go-to parenting resources. It has yet to let me down.
I’ve learned over my many years of caring for children, and now more recently with my own, that establishing a deep, meaningful connection is at the root of happy parents and happy kids. The feeling of security and trust that lies between a parent and a child is how children grow to feel love and love themselves. How they learn to cooperate, compromise and grow into unique individuals.
Sometimes as parents we approach connection as more a duty than a natural desire to feel close to our children. It’s understandable – we live busy lives. We have a laundry list of obligations needing to be met at the end of each day and sometimes all we want is a moment or two or three or twenty to ourselves when we can squeeze in the time! That is important and we do need to find time for ourselves to be good parents but we also have to work in time for our little ones who so desperately crave our love and attention. Those little munchkins that live for us – to please us, to make us laugh and feel our support. They need to see that they are worthwhile in our eyes. That we want to spend our precious time with them. I am the first to attest that after you embrace those little moments, the rest of the world melts away. The list of chores you wanted to get done have washed away into mere memory and you realize where you need to be. Where you are needed most. Those silly dishes can wait…
I have compiled for you eight easy ways to improve your connection with your children! After building your relationship back up, you will see such a difference in independence, behavior, willingness to compromise and overall attitude!
8 ways you can improve your connection and relationship:
- Hug every day, multiple times a day. I love the quote from Virginia Satir, a family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival, We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.” Fuel your connection with physical one. Hug first thing in the morning, every time you say goodbye, during play, before bed. This is for children of all ages
- Transition time connections. During transition times (before nap, bed, walking out the door, etc) take a moment to connect. Sit down together and have a little chat, a snuggle, read a book together. Make it obvious that you are committed to being with your child and not simply trying to get from one activity to another quickly.
- Turn off the cell phone, the iPad and computer. Kids know when you are not really listening to them.
- Introduce child-directed play. Spend at the very least 15 to 20 minutes of individual play time with each child. Let your child take the lead. Make them giggle, squeal and laugh.
- Get on their level. Hit the floor for playtime. Sit at the table with them. Make sure you are eye level so your child can see that you are in tune and dedicated to hearing what they want to say however silly or serious.
- Respond to your child’s cries and be empathetic. Children want to feel comfortable crying and sharing their feelings when they need to. Understand your child’s point of view and try not to “shush” your child instead tell them you are sorry they are feeling sad/frustrated/mad. Help guide them through their feelings. We all know stuffing our feelings is not healthy. Start young by letting them know it’s okay to feel upset in turn they will trust you and themselves with their feelings in turn share more with you. This can be a valuable connection to have as your toddler grows into a teenager.
- Follow through with promises. It may seem like a small, meaningless promise to you but your child is counting on it.
- Involve them. Let your children, no matter the age, help with making meals, home projects, etc. Make it a positive experience and have age-appropriate expectations for them.
We earn trust and grow connection through our everyday activities riding in the car, making dinner, taking a bath. Rememeber to make these chores into fun, memorable activities. They do happen to make up the majority of our day so let’s make them count! Look at establishing connection daily as a kind of happy-child, happy-parent maintenance. It will help prevent problems from arising.
All we need is love. A quote that rings true for both children and adults alike. It’s so simple yet seems to be to hard in grind of life. Make your children feel validated and heard and I promise you will start seeing an ease swing back into your days, smiles back on your family’s faces and few more sweet giggles floating through hallways.
What ways to do you connect or reconnect after a tough day?