Connection is as essential to us parents as it is to our children, because that's what makes parenting worth all the sacrifices.
Given that parenting is the toughest job on earth and we often do it in our spare time, after being separated all day the only way to keep a strong bond with our children is to build in daily habits of connection. Here are five simple ways you can stay connected to your children:
1. Aim for hugs or physical connections every day. Give your child hugs and kisses on the cheek on a regular basis. Physical contact will help you bond with your children. Touch can increase trust, decrease violence, strengthen the immune system and increase overall well-being.
Snuggle your child first thing in the morning for a few minutes, and last thing at night. Hug when you say goodbye, when you're re-united, and often in between. Tousle hair, pat backs, rub shoulders. Make eye contact and smile, which is a different kind of touch. If your tween or teen rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realize that with older kids you have to ease into the connection. Get her settled with a drink or something to eat and chat with her. It's a foolproof way to hear what happened in her life today. You'll find yourself glad, many times, if you prioritize that.
2. Be attentive. Actively listen when your child wants to talk to you. Show that you’re listening by stopping what you’re doing and maintaining eye contact. Share their enthusiasm about what they’re discussing, even if the subject is about insects, or a movie you’ve both watched a hundred times. If you’re not able to put down what you’re doing, let your child know and be sure to follow up on the conversation later in the day when you can provide undivided attention.
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, Afterwards, he'll feel more relaxed, cooperative, and closer to you.
3. Play and do activities with them.
Not everyone is a good "talker." In other words, some people prefer to be doing activities, instead of talking. So if you are like that and even if you're not, then why not try engaging in more activities with your child and as a family? Laughter can keep you connected with your child. Making laughter a daily habit also gives your child a chance to laugh out the anxieties.
The point is to spend T-I-M-E with your child. Because that's how children spell L-O-V-E.
Being a good parent is not easy. But keep in mind that your children are only kids for a very short time, and everything you say, do or don't do can change who they are.
That connection is also the only reason children willingly follow our rules. Kids who feel strongly connected to their parents want to cooperate, if they can. They'll still act like kids, which means their emotions will sometimes overwhelm them. But when they trust us to understand, to be on their side, they're motivated to follow our lead when they can.
God has given you a child to raise and another human being to enjoy, get to know, learn from and best of all, LOVE. So make your actions count!
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