So here’s the secret. Having a strong emotional relationship with our kids makes more of a positive difference than any parenting techniques we employ. When children feel emotionally connected to their parents, they feel known and accepted, and they are much more likely to listen.
Emotional connection happens when we spend time together – playing, listening, working together, and accomplishing goals together. There are a lot of things you can do to establish an emotionally close relationship with your child. As they feel connected to you emotionally they are more likely to listen to you. Here are the ways that will help you build a close relationship with your child.
Babies as well as children soak in love through eye contact and being held. Whenever you are interacting with them , make sure you make eye contact both when things are going well and when they are not. Try not to look away or ignore them when they’ve done something wrong. You don’t want to accidentally give them a message that they are unacceptable to look at when they mess up.
Kids soak up hugs, kisses and being held. As children grow they may prefer other ways to connect physically, such as sitting close while watching TV or reading, wrestling, or pats on the shoulder. Get to know your children and what they like.
This means spending focused time with your child every day, if possible, by interacting with them on activities that they enjoy. You may feel like, “If I give them any more focused attention I’m going to die!”
We give them lots of attention just to keep them alive! We feed them, change their diapers, do the laundry, drive them to events, help with homework, and break up fights, to name a few.
Spending 15-30 minutes a day with each child builds a deep emotional connection with them that will help them listen to you and feel loved by you. Ask your child, “I’d love to spend twenty minutes with you one-on-one most days. What would you like to do during that time?’
Validation with empathy
Validating your children’s feelings helps them feel known and loved. Validating their feelings doesn’t mean you agree with them or see things the same way. The purpose is to let them know you understand what they are going through. You put yourself in the shoes of your two-year-old, five-year-old or ten-year-old, and ask yourself, “What must it be like to be my child in this situation? What would it be
like for them to have this happen?’ You then reflect back their thoughts and feelings while still applying boundaries.
Let’s say your daughter is very upset that her brother touched her favorite shirt. You’re probably thinking, “ How could this be the end of the world to her?’But it is.
Because you want to connect with her on a heart level, you say,
Mum: “You are really upset that your brother touched your favorite shirt.”
Mum: “It is so special to you, and you don’t want anyone to touch it.”
Mum: “ I understand how upset you are, and that you are angry. Even though you are angry, you cannot hit your brother. You will need to tell him you are sorry, and next time something like this happens, come to me and tell me what you are upset about instead of hitting him. I love you very much.”
When we let them know we understand what they are feeling they become less upset and calm down. More important, it build a close relationship with them. They understand that “Mommy and Daddy love me, even when I do something wrong.”