All parents want to build a great relationship with their children. Like in any relationship, a parent-child relationship also takes effort and patience to run smoothly.
Do you want to know the secret to building a strong bond with your child?
It is connection.
You can’t expect your child to love you for life just because you are their mother or father. Yes, most of the time we love our parents even if they were not what we wanted to be.
But is that enough?
Don’t we want to build close, meaningful relationships with the people we love?
Like anything meaningful in life, building great relationships also takes work.
But it’s not hard. You already love your child. What you need is the sincere effort to pass it to them. It means being present for them and paying attention to them.
Now you might say,
I understand, but how am I supposed to find the time for building connection when I have barely time left after cooking, cleaning, job, spouse, homework, self-care, and all the stuff I am supposed to do?
I hear you!
The answer is, you don’t need to take a lot of time in your day to connect. Always aim for quality time against quantity time. Even if you are a stay-at-home mom and always around, it’s not enough to build connection.
You need to engage with your child intentionally and bond with them.
WHY SHOULD YOU BUILD CONNECTION WITH YOUR CHILD?
Building connection is essential because we want our children to feel loved. We also want them to follow the rules we have set for them so that they grow up as well-adjusted kids.
But if there is no connection and only rules, it’s hard to get co-operation from them.
Lack of connection directly impacts their behavior towards you. Because as parents we always need to guide them to behave well. And that includes scolding, criticizing, and even yelling (yes, we all don’t have it together all the time).
So, if they are getting only negative interactions from us, it is going to weaken the relationship. Therefore, taking time to connect must be made a priority.
Related: 7 tips to stop being an angry mom
Here are some ways to connect with your child:
PLAY WITH THEM
Whether parents should play with kids is often a debatable topic, as many parents do not like to play.
I won’t say you should play with them daily. I don’t like to make it a chore because, to be honest, I don’t enjoy playing much. But sometimes they come and ask me, “Mom, will you play with me?”.
I never say NO, because I know if they ask this it’s because they need attention from me and they want me to spend time with them.
But if I am busy, I tell them, “I am in the middle of ________ (insert what I’m doing), I shall join you as soon as I finish this”. And I always try to keep my word even it’s for a few minutes.
We like to play badminton or flying discs. Or sometimes it’s to participate in a pretend play or building LEGOs. Choose a game that you both enjoy so that it doesn’t seem like a chore.
My idea of play is something that takes only 10-20 minutes. Even roughhousing and tickling can be considered a fun activity to bond with your child.
While I am writing this, I am also pretend playing with my daughter as a customer in her restaurant. She wants me to be her customer because her sister is too tired to play. She said I can sit with my laptop, that’s enough for her.
I said yes, and the play lasted only two minutes.
Every moment can be an opportunity to give your child the attention they need.
LISTEN TO THEM
Listening to your children when they talk is a great way to connect to them.
When they come to you to share something, listen attentively by stopping what you are doing and making eye contact.
Try to listen fully and resist the urge to lash out on them if they made a mistake. Most of the time, parents react angrily and scold them and it just shuts off the probability of all the future honest revelations from them.
You don’t want that because you want them to approach you when they face challenges in life. So pause and hold your reaction. Listen intensively because you get to know the motive behind their behavior in that particular situation.
It helps you to see things from their innocent perspective and get to know them better.
Listening also makes the child feel secure and close to you. While listening, if necessary, empathize with them. When you tell them, “Bailey snatched your doll, you must be feeling terrible!!”, they feel understood.
HUG AND CUDDLE
Who doesn’t love cuddles? Adults and children love cuddles alike. It makes you feel special and loved. Not only that, it boosts your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Studies show that hugging releases the hormone called oxytocin a.k.a love hormone. It promotes the feeling of love, care, and safety.
Hugging also decreases the level of the stress hormone (cortisol). I have often noticed how giving a tight hug that lasts long, calms my upset daughter.
Not only hugging, small gestures like tousling their hair lovingly when they tell you what happened at school, patting their backs when they make you feel proud, or giving a long tight kiss before putting them to bed, all of them count in filling the connection tank.
Making connections are easy. You only need to sprinkle these little acts of love daily from morning to night.
HAVE ONE-ON-ONE TIME WITH EACH KID
If you are a mother who has to juggle between work and home, it’s tough to find some quality time in your day. But you always have the bedtime, or the time before everyone leaves for school or work to connect.
Whatever be the time, fix time daily to spend one-on-one time with your kids. For us, it’s in the evening and at night.
I work from home. So if I get free time in the evening, I play with them, do coloring or make an art project.
I also try to put kids early to bed, ten to fifteen minutes earlier, so that we get time for story-telling, share the events of the day, and for some cuddling.
My younger one reaches home earlier than the older one. So, I get to spend time with her alone. When my older one reaches home, we do some activity together so I get to spend one-on-one time with her too.
DO CHORES TOGETHER
Kids usually love to help and they take pride in the things they are able to do. Involving them in your chores lets you spend more time with them, teach them, and therefore connect.
Encouraging kids to do chores with you helps to foster independence and a sense of responsibility in them.
Older kids can help in the kitchen by cutting vegetables, stirring, and mixing. Even younger kids can do their part by putting clothes in the laundry basket, picking up their toys, etc.
MAKE USE OF DRIVING TIME
Make use of commuting time from home to school and vice versa. You can ask them to join when you are running errands too.
When you need to grab something from the grocery store, take your older child with you. You can talk to each other during the drive. And she can help you find things from the store.
It’s a win-win. Because you are making use of the time to connect as well as teaching them some adult responsibilities.
SLOW DOWN, DON’T RUSH THEM
I am always guilty of rushing kids because either the time is running out or because I have a lot of tasks left to do.
But these days, I try to slow down and savor each moment (my daily meditation habit also helps me in this). I believe even if I don’t have a special time to connect, taking each and every opportunity to connect is good enough.
When you involve them in the household chores, surely they do a messy task and they are so slow that you would rather do it. But what I have learned from experience is that if you wish to become a better parent, cultivating patience is a must.
When you are with your child, take a breath to let go of the need to rush and try to see each moment from your child’s eyes. Enjoy and savor those moments with them.
In fact, a child can teach you how to live in the moment. They are not worried about the next moment and the moment that has passed. And therefore, they are happy and content as long as they are fed and loved.
They always stop what they are doing to tell you a hundred things. Don’t shush them, and don’t rush them. Listen, nod, and just smile if you have nothing to say.
I don’t know who said this about parenting, but it’s absolutely true. That when it comes to parenting, “the days are long, but the years are short”.
Before you know, your baby who doesn’t sleep at night starts going to school, and soon enough she will be old enough to leave the home to live on her own.
So stop and enjoy each and every moment. Life happens at the moment and everything else is not in your reach, not yet.
PUT THE SMARTPHONES AWAY
This one is so important. It is not connection if you listen to your child only with one ear.
It is not connection if you just glance up and then hang your head back down to keep scrolling. You might be nodding and smiling, but to whom? To your phone?
Make connection time technology-free. Even if it’s momentary when your kids want to tell you something, look up, maintain eye contact, and truly listen.
Let them know they are important enough for you to stop scrolling.
This one is my favorite. I love listening to the stories that my mom tells me. Not imaginary stories but the real stories from her childhood and youth.
Stories about me and my siblings as kids. It a great way to bond with your child.
And now I totally get where my daughter gets her slow eating from, lol. To make it more enjoyable, go through old photo albums (or the collection on your hard drive) and try to reminisce about the moments that were frozen in time.
TAKE ONE-DAY TRIPS OR DINE OUT AS A FAMILY
Taking a one-day or half-day trip to a nearby beach or park is an amazing way to enjoy and connect as a family. Such trips give adults and kids a refreshing break from the stress of daily lives.
Or, you can plan to have dinner from your favorite restaurant every couple of weeks.
When you take these breaks, remember to put your phone away. Scrolling on Instagram when you are sitting on the beach or in the restaurant destroys the purpose of going out.
Instead, use this time to have conversations with your loved ones.
As I said, building connection with your child is not a hard thing to do. It’s all about your priorities and never wasting time.
What do you think about these connection-building activities? Do you have a favorite way of connecting with your child? Let me know in the comments below!
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