We all crave those close moments with our children that make our hearts melt. Connection is as essential to us parents as it is to our children, because that’s what makes parenting worth all the sacrifices.
We live in a fast-paced society. I hear it all the time in my practice: “How can I connect with my child?” When the toils of everyday life creep in, parents can get so bogged down in schedules that the relationship with their children can seem distanced and disconnected.
Parents want to connect with their children more than ever these days. Living in the Bay Area can be demanding, and not leave as much time for your family as you would like to have. You are not alone in feeling this way. I see many families that are going through this.
Research shows that we need at least five positive interactions to each negative interaction to maintain a healthy, happy relationship that can weather the normal conflicts and upsets of daily life. So when we’re short on positive interactions, our relationship balance dips into the red. As with any bank account, we’re overdrawn.
That’s when kids resist our guidance and develop attitude, whether they’re two ortwelve.Life is busy, and you don’t need one more thing for your to-do list. Instead, why not create a few daily habits that replenish your relationship account with your child? After thirty days, any action becomes a habit, so you don’t have to think about it.
10 ways to develop strong connection with your child
1. Have physical connection everyday
As family therapist Virginia Satir famously said, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
Give your child as many hugs as possible. Snuggle your child for the first five minutes when they wake up and before they go to sleep. Hug them when they leave for school, and one when they return home and often in between.Give them a kiss on the top of the head. Hold hands at the dinner table.If your kid is having a hard time,sit next to them and put your arms around them.Tousle hair,pat backs, rub shoulders. Make eye contact and smile, which is a different kind of touch. Parental touch is safe, and therefore irreplaceable. When kids don’t get enough healthy parental touch, they go looking for love in all the wrong places.
2. Undivided play time
Spend at least 30 minutes of special time with your child, just following their lead and pouring your love into them. This habit alone can transform your relationship with your child. Let them be the director and tell you what to do. Listen compassionately to their long story about troubles with kids in their class, without getting over-excited or jumping in to fix anything. Turn off your phone and be with them completely without any distractions. This would make your child feel that they are important
enough to their parents
3. Connect to their emotions on upsets
No matter what your child says, empathize. Actions may need to be limited, but all emotions are acceptable. When you acknowledge how your child feels, you strengthen your connection and build emotional intelligence. Remember that you’re the one he trusts enough to cry with, and breathe your way through it. Just acknowledge all those feelings and offer understanding of the pain. That creates safety, so he can move through those emotions and back into connection.
4. Ask for their opinion
Ask your child what activity he or she would like to do with you instead of planning a camping trip or something that you think is ideal. You may both have the same vision, but be open to it being something like playing video games together or building a fort. When you do ask their opinion:
- Be flexible.
- Ask what they need more of from you. “How do you think Mommy or Daddy can be better?” is one way to ask.
- Ask for honesty.
- They may not have an answer, but they may have some good pointers. Requests could be as simple as “more snuggles” or “play with me more.”
- Take heed. Our children can help us become better parents, if we only humble ourselves enough to ask, listen, and follow through.
Asking for your child’s opinion doesn’t give him or her too much to power. Instead, it helps your children trust themselves and shows them that their opinion is respected and appreciated.
5. Express your unconditional love to provide them safe loving space
Whether or not you think your child knows they’re loved unconditionally, make sure to communicate those thoughts. When children are assured that love is unconditional, it brings about a feeling of relief.
For example, you could say, “No matter how upset I ever get, there is nothing you can ever do to make me stop loving you. I love you unconditionally and nothing will ever change that.”
Constantly looking for approval from parents can be draining (for both parent and child). Instead, encourage them do the best they can for themselves, with no need for approval from others. Explain how doing your best makes you feel good from the inside out.