Parents all over the world have always wanted a magical formula to strengthen their bond with their children. How do you make sure you pack in the memories while time and their childhood swoosh by so quick? How can we look back years later on their childhood and know we made it count? Is this possible? Is there really a tried and tested trick that will work? What if I told you there was and that you can see the results almost instantly. Having read tonnes of parenting books, and adding my own experience as a mum of two, I have finally understood the importance and the magic of Connection.
The Importance of Connection :
Connecting with your child is by far the most effective tool in your parenting kitty. It is about taking the time to get down to your child’s level and interact with them in a way that makes sense to them. Often, as parents, we think like adults and unfortunately, expect our children to understand us at our level. But we must remember to parent more from the heart to strengthen the relationship we have with our children and that’s exactly what connection does. It’s a busy world and even before we know it our kids are on their way to college. I’d love to think my children will look back on their childhood and know that as parents we enjoyed them.
Effective ways to connect with your child :
Time: There’s just no way around it. Children need your time. And before you jump to the conclusion that you’ll need to smother them with your attention 24/7, the truth is, that carving out 20 minutes of your time to give them your undivided attention and time will work wonders. This is by far the best way to make your child feel connected to you. Easy, you think. But think about it. How often in a day, do we sit and actually listen to our children wholeheartedly. There’s usually some work we’re doing on our phone or cooking a meal, or doing our household chores. It’s great when we involve them in those chores too. But they still need some exclusive time. The easiest way to get this done is to schedule it into your routine. Dr Laura Markham in her book “Peaceful Parent”, calls this measure “ Preventive Maintenance”. First thing in the morning, bedtime or right after school and if you have more than one child, make sure you have one on one time with each of them. Make sure to let your child know, they have your attention and time and let them take the lead of how they’d like to spend it with you.
Empathize: This is the key to connection. There’s no greater way of connecting with your child than when you are feeling like them. If there’s one emotion your child truly needs from you, it would be empathy. Children need this the most when it feels like they deserve it the least. Showing empathy to our children, first, before any other emotion is not always easy. How often do you want to tell them, “ Oh, you had a really fun time, scribbling on the wall with mummy’s lipstick, didn’t you?” Showing empathy before we unleash other emotions takes practice and it’s worth the effort. Putting ourselves in their place, understanding their perspective and emotions helps our children feel that they matter, are loved and cared for. It helps foster a deep connection with our little ones.
Include Rituals in your Routine: To begin with, routines are great for children. It gives children a rough draft of their day and what to expect at roughly what parts of the day. Make time for connection through your routines. Not only will this give you little moments of connection during the day but will also help break the monotony of everyday routine and bring in some fun. Include some morning rituals; like 5 minutes of cuddles in bed or starting the day with a giant hug. Bedtime rituals can include, reading a storybook together, a hug and a kiss, saying I love you and goodnight, a quick night walk in pyjamas. These little gestures and rituals will keep you connected through your busy humdrum days and more importantly, your children will look forward to making these precious moments together. Eat a Meal Together, Every Day: It would be great if we could eat all meals together, but we must let life happen too. Make it a point to eat at least one meal together, with your child and as a family. The benefits of doing this on a daily basis are immense. Think of it as a daily catching up that your family does. This is a time you can ask your child about their day, encourage conversations and bring up significant events of the day. Harley A Rotbart in his book “No Regrets Parenting” suggests you use dinner time to reconnect with your loved ones, and use specific questions and prompts with children to get them talking. “Tell me how your skating class went, how was show and tell at school”. Try and keep the conversations positive and light, so children look forward to eating together, than worrying they’ll be reprimanded for something they did. Save those conversations for another time.
Call to Action: Remember, it’s how you spend your time with your child that matters, more than how much. Focus on the quality of your time together and not so much on the quantity. If you can make your moments together connected and special, it’ll keep their love tanks full and their confidence beaming. The nights are long but the years are short, so let’s make our time together count.