Life is busy. There is so much to do and we can all feel overwhelmed at some point. But we can’t let our hectic lives let us lose sight of the importance of fostering that all-important child and parent connection.
You have a full working day, but you also need to think about what everyone is eating for dinner, how to get between the various afterschool activities, what needs to go in tomorrow’s pack-ups and exactly when that school trip is. School bombards you with emails, your manager does the same and you are not sure how many nappies you have left for the baby and when you will get time to stock up.
It is no surprise that really, properly connecting with your child can fall by the wayside. However, that connection is so important for maintaining a healthy relationship. So this article will help you find ways to improve child and parent connection.
Why is the child and parent connection so important?
Connection with a parent is key to healthy development for children. It offers security because they understand that you are looking out for them and that you will back them up. It validates their feelings, proves that they are loved and valued and improves their self-esteem.
You form a relationship that is deep and meaningful. Your child will be less likely to hide worries and concerns from you and more likely to come to you for advice and reassurance. It makes children feel less alone. You also benefit from a more fulfilling relationship with your children which means you make great memories that you can cherish forever.
Even if you have limited time, there are still ways to connect with your child on a daily basis and this article provides some suggestions for you to try.
How to improve child and parent connection
Of course, you will never go fully device-free. They are useful things to have for parents and children alike. But when you are both on devices, you may be in the same room but you are not really connecting. Set aside some device-free time every day so that you can spend the time really connecting, rather than being connected.
It could be at mealtimes or just before bedtime. Wherever you do it depends on your life and what works best for you, but make sure you block out that time. When you are not distracted by your Instagram feed, or whatever you look at in those downtimes, you can fully give yourself over to the other person and connect with each other.
Talk and listen
It may seem obvious, but how often do you really talk with your child? Not just about the mundane duties of life, but real, deep chat? And how often do you listen to them? Really listen to them. Not just nod and smile while they talk and you carry out one of the many household tasks on your list.
Make sure you offer them that real parent connection and sit down to talk with them about whatever they feel is important. And you can talk about the things that are important to you too. They will appreciate the fact that you want to converse on this level.
Listen to what they have to say. Show interest and ask follow-up questions. Make them feel seen and heard.
Show interest in their passions
Another way to build the connection is to actively get involved in the things they are passionate about. Especially if they don’t feel as comfortable having in-depth conversations. Simply being interested in what inspires them can get them to open up more.
You don’t have to smother them and follow them around, but researching their hobbies and being able to talk about them with them is enough to create a bond.
Rather than dismiss whatever it is that they are keen on (which is easy to do if you don’t understand it), find out why it ignites a passion in them and support that.
Take up a hobby together
There is a lot of enjoyment in taking up a new hobby, so share that experience with your child. This is a great way to both enjoy the child and parent connection. It doesn’t have to be an expensive or time-consuming hobby, it can be playing board games, going for a walk, sketching or anything you can do together.
Learning and practising something at the same time provides a shared experience that gives you that basis on which to build your connection.
Building a connection can be as simple as making time for physical contact. Obviously, you shouldn’t force this on an unwilling child, but the benefits of hugging are huge. It makes both people feel safe, loved and…yes…connected.
Virginia Satir, a world-renowned family therapist, once said, “we need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” It is one of the simplest and most pure connections you can make with your children. You might not have much luck getting your 12 a day in with your teenager though!
Some children wear their hearts on their sleeves and display their emotions in a very vocal manner. This can be inconvenient and tough to deal with, but they need understanding. If a child is emotional, they need you to acknowledge their feelings and provide them with understanding and support.
Dismissing this diminishes that parent connection and can lead to frustration. That is not to say it is easy, particularly if the emotion on display is anger, but by trying to understand the anger, rather than simply responding with your own anger, you show the child that you are there for them and are trying to understand them.
How I can help
If you are looking for ways to improve the child and parent connection, I can help. I have 30 years of experience in helping parents and children find their common ground and support and understand each other. Book a free discovery call today to find out how my six-week programme could change your home life for the better.