When life gets busy, it can be challenging to make time each day to connect meaningfully with your kids. Even when life is super hectic, connecting with your kids daily is essential for a healthy relationship. Here are eight easy ways to ensure that your little ones feel connected and loved every day.
Treat your child with respect
Speak to your kids how you’d want to be spoken to. Avoid talking to them in a condescending tone. Make an effort to have honest conversations as often as possible. By keeping communication open, you are teaching your child from an early age that they can trust you with their feelings.
Get in one-on-one time several times a week
Do not forget to schedule quality time alone with your children as often as possible. They may be related, but they likely have entirely different personalities. Make sure that none of your children feel like they have to compete for your attention.
Each of your children has unique qualities and interests. Make sure to consider both those things when you schedule that special time together.
Have fun together
Children love to play and explore. In order to deeply connect with them, you need to join in on that fun time. Having fun with your little one after a long day can be challenging, but it is super important.
I set aside at least twenty minutes each night to play before our bedtime routine starts. I also try to plan fun activities such as a trip to a park or a kid-friendly attraction on days when we do not have another commitment. Try to let your child direct the play as much as possible. Smiling and laughing together are wonderful ways to bond.
Offer your unconditional support
Most parents start off with an idea of what their children will be like. That preconceived vision rarely matches reality. As children grow, they each develop unique interests and skills. Do not project your dreams and interests onto your child.
Embrace them for the wonderful little person they are. Find ways to nurture their personality and support them on whatever path they are currently on. Let them know that you are proud of them, no matter what their personal passion is.
Create a meaningful bedtime routine
Set up a bedtime routine that allows each child to get time with a parent before they go to sleep. If you have multiple children, you can stagger bedtimes, designate a specific parent for each night of the week, or even a combination of both of those things. Every family has unique bedtime traditions, but reading time, affirmations, and a brief recap of the day are all essential. Connecting with your child before the lights go off is a great way to end the day.
During the school year, I have to start cooking shortly after my daughter gets home from school. Since she is almost six and old enough to help around the kitchen, I will often ask her to be part of the dinner preparation process. This offers an excellent opportunity to connect on hectic evenings.
As long as they are old enough, let your child do some stirring, mixing, or pouring of ingredients while you cook. If you do not feel safe letting your child near the stove, have them set the table instead.
Acknowledge their feelings
Small children have enormous emotions. The part of the brain that manages emotions is still developing, so they struggle to handle complicated feelings. Many things that parents often consider problematic behavior is actually emotional dysregulation.
When a child is struggling emotionally, show empathy and acknowledge their feelings. This creates a sense of safety for children. Parents must keep control of their own emotions when handling an upset child. Meltdowns can be huge triggers for parents, especially if their feelings were not embraced as children.
You must become your child’s emotional lifesaver instead of jumping into rocky waters with them. It doesn’t matter what has your child upset. Their feelings are real and deserve respect. Children need parents to hold space for them to express their feelings without judgment or punishment.
Put away your phone
Set healthy boundaries for your phone use. This is a hard one for most parents! If you are constantly scrolling through social media or texting, you are not fully present in the moment. Consider turning off your phone during mealtimes, movie nights, and other special moments.
Making an effort to connect meaningfully can radically change your relationships with your children. Connection is essential for any healthy relationship. Connection is built on mutual respect, trust, and honesty. Spending time together, even during hectic days, will make a lifetime of difference for both you and your child.