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10 Ways to Connect With Your Child

By Rebecca Eanes

Being deeply connected to our children is the key to emotional health, cooperation, influence, and peaceful homes, but staying connected in the hustle and bustle of daily life can be challenging. We have to be intentional about our relationships with them now if want these relationships to flourish for years to come. Here are 10 ways to connect with your child. These require time and commitment, but the payoff is greater than anything else you will ever achieve.

1. Let go of distractions. I'm not coming with an anti-technology message, and no one expects you to let the emails go unanswered or the laundry undone, but we simply have to carve out time each and every day to attune to our children. It doesn't have to be a lot of time every day. You may be able to squeeze in only 10 minutes today, but maybe you can do an hour later in the week. The key is to really focus all of your attention on them for this set-aside time.


2.  Know what makes them feel loved and give it daily. Some children need more affection, others need to hear affirming words. I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages of Children to help you understand what your child's love language is and how to practice all love languages. However, if your child is old enough, simply ask what makes him or her feel loved the most. On the flip side of this coin, be sure to avoid things that go against their language. For example, if your child's love language is words of affirmation, be especially careful with criticizing that child. Of course, you don't have to have a book to make your child feel loved. Just be sure to tell them what you love about them, encourage and build them up, and be affectionate.

3.  Show sincere interest in their interests. Minecraft or One Direction might not thrill you, but you also might be surprised at what you find you enjoy when you take the time to go into your child's world. 

4.  Be a parent you can talk to. This means being able to listen without doling out immediate judgment. We have a tendency to want to offer our two cents before our kids even finish a sentence. Often we discount their feelings with words like “Oh, it's not that big of a deal” or we offer advice when really all they need is to feel heard. 

5.  Use positive discipline. Drop the authoritarian act in favor of being a leader and a teacher. Punishments like spanking and time out cause disconnection and don't teach the child how to improve, whereas teaching problem-solving skills and using fair and logical consequences with a healthy dose of empathy will keep the connection intact and give your child skills for better self-control.

6.  Play is powerful when it comes to connection. Chase them around the yard, run through sprinklers, have a dance party, or dress up and act out a book. Children long for this kind of active play and laughter with you, and it's a surefire way to build connection fast.

7.  Make loving rituals a part of your day. Most people think of bedtime for this, and that is a wonderful time to connect, but there are other options as well. From making breakfast together every morning to putting jokes or notes in your child's lunchbox, there are little opportunities all throughout the day to convey the important message of  “I love you. You matter.”

8.  Tell them family stories and stories from your childhood. Kids love to hear what it was like when you were little, and this also helps them to get to know you better. They start to understand that you're not just “mom” or “dad” but a person with a history and a story, and this brings closer connection.

9.  Start a journal with your child. Write back and forth to each other regularly. This opens the opportunity for her to tell you things she might not want to say face-to-face as well being a kind of memoir of her childhood and something she will cherish as an adult.

10.  Always reach out and reconnect after a rift. If you've yelled or been rude, own up to your mistake and apologize. Don't allow bad feelings to fester. Find ways to work through your problems as positively as possible.

 

Rebecca Eanes is the author of The Newbie's Guide to Positive Parenting and co-author of Positive Parenting in Action: The How-To Guide for Putting Positive Parenting Principles into Action in Early Childhood. She is the founder of www.positive-parents.org and creator of the Facebook community Positive Parenting: Toddlers and Beyond. ??Through her Facebook community and website, Rebecca reaches thousands of parents daily with the message that connection trumps coercion and love is most powerful motivator. She does not claim to be a parenting "expert" but writes parent-to-parent with the hope of inspiring others to create peaceful homes through positive parenting.

She is the grateful mother of two boys.

Posted on Oct 01, 2014

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