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.