Written By: Tamra Cater
Do you ever think about this? How we, the parents, can connect to our children?
Sometimes I get so busy I feel guilty that I haven’t paid enough attention to my daughter or connected with her enough. However, there are always times throughout the day that I can find simple ways to emotionally connect with her. This can even be something as small as a hug or a kiss on the head. But, it’s important to me that I continually try to make a connection with my daughter. I love her and care about her, so I want her to feel that love. I don’t want her to ever feel like she has to “assume” that I love her. I want her to know it through my actions and words.
When I was growing up, I think my parents assumed that I knew that they loved me. However, it didn’t always feel that way, because they didn’t always go out of their way to say “I love you” or to give me that hug. And as I mentioned in one of my blog posts (http://www.nurturingtamra.com/how-parenting-impacts-a-childs-self-esteem/), it’s more important what the child feels and experiences in terms of that connection and feeling of love. If a child feels connected with their parents, it’s more likely that they will have higher levels of self-esteem than someone who doesn’t feel that way. So as parents, how can we all do a better job connecting with our children?
Why is Connection so Important?
We truly wanted those times where we feel emotionally bonded with our children, but what sorts of benefits does it have for the parent/child relationship as a whole? When children feel connected with their parents, they are more likely to cooperate and listen to parents. In addition, when we give our children positive attention, this helps them feel valued and builds a positive self-image. Last of all, connecting with our children is important so that children feel reassured and safe.
So what are some simple but amazing things that you can do throughout the day to connect with your children?
10 Simple But Amazing Tips for Connecting with Your Children
1.Cook or bake. This is something that my child truly seems to enjoy doing with me. I let her pour the ingredients in the bowl and help me mix the ingredients together. And you can tell by the way she talks, that she is truly enjoying it.
2. Play Chase. For some reason, this brings my daughter to laughter every time. We will run around the house, taking turns chasing each other. In my next point, I explain how laughter helps increase our connection with our children.
3. Be silly and do things to encourage laughter. For example, I “make raspberries” on my daughter’s belly, and again, she laughs a ton! Laughter releases stress-reducing hormones in our body and improves mood. Research shows that families with stronger relationships tend to laugh together more. So, laughter is such a good thing for our relationships with our children!
4. Explore a new place together. It’s always fun to go to a new park or to a new store. For example, when I first took my daughter to the zoo when she was old enough to understand what she was looking at, this was awe-inspiring for her. I enjoyed seeing how happy and excited she was! These new experiences help build memories and a stronger bond between our children and us.
5. Play with your child. This could involve putting a puzzle together or painting. As another example, recently, I was making sensory bottles with my child, and she had a blast! She got to help put the beads in the bottles. We also enjoy playing with blocks together by making “castles” and “houses.” In doing this, this helps our children feel valued and loved when they get attention and affection from us. This is such a simple way to make a connection with our children!
6. No matter how young or how old your child is, talk to them. For example, with my child, I do what I can do ask her if she had fun after she went to school and what she liked about it. I also ask her about things she likes, such as what her favorite color is. Also, when I was teenager, one thing I enjoyed most was having long conversations with mom until the sun came up. I truly felt connected to her then.
7. Put the phone down and actively listen and pay attention. This is something that I admit I need to better with. When your daughter is trying to play or talk to you, keep the phone out of reach and just focus on the “here and now.” This helps your child feel valuable and important. Listen to what your child is saying and feeling and be empathetic. Validate their feelings.
8. Read to your child. I absolutely love sitting down with my child in my lap and reading to her. This is one of those times where I truly feel connected to her. This is another type of experience that can build memories and stronger relationships!
9. Sing or dance with your child. This is something that my child LOVES! While I feel like I look ridiculous dancing or sound horrible when I sing, I love doing this with my child. I feel like this is another way I can connect and bond with her. Related to this, I think this helps encourage her interests in singing or dancing if I participate and help support her in what she enjoys.
10. Give your child a hug and smile at them. Who doesn’t love hugs and feel more connected with when we get hugs? I think the same thing goes for children. Hugs and smiles help our body release stress-releasing hormones, so we feel good in the end!
Final Thoughts on Connecting with Your Child
We live in a technology-driven world, and there are lots of people on social media. We are also busy with our jobs, household chores, making dinner, etc. However, the best moments are likely those times where we connect with our children and our family. I know that I love these moments and will always hold on to them. These are things that will never be forgotten. So, I think making time to connect with our children even in our busy lives is so important for everyone involved! As mentioned, our children are more likely to listen to us and follow our direction if they feel a strong connection with us. And it also makes us feel good knowing that we have a strong relationship with our children. Do have your own tips on how to connect to your children? Share us here!
Laughter: Nature’s medicine for family relationships. Retrieved from https://www.acpeds.org/laughter-natures-medicine-for-family-relationships.
Positive attention and your child. Retrieved from https://raisingchildren.net.au/toddlers/connecting-communicating/connecting/positive-attention
About The Author: Tamra Cater is a mother of a 3-year-old daughter and wife to a football coach. She is a professor that teaches a lot of developmental psychology classes and loves sharing her knowledge of child development with others! You can find her blog at www.nurturingtamra.com.