Connecting With Your Kids

Connecting With Your Kids. The first and most important relationship we have in our lives is the one with our parents. Children learn how to love, play, interact, and resolve conflict through the bond they form with their mom and dad. From the moment a child is born, they want their parents’ love and attention and it helps form their confidence and identity develop as they receive it. As they mature, the bond strengthens through shared experiences and by spending quality time together. Here are some easy ways to strengthen the parent-child bond.

Play together

The simplest way to bond with your child is to spend time playing with them. Play comes naturally to children and is a great way to spend quality time with them. Play teaches them life skills. Such as how to share, resolve conflict, and how to follow rules. It is also a great way to bond with your child. By playing peek-a-boo, tossing a ball in the backyard, playing house, or making crafts, you are. Bonding with your child because you are sharing in their joy of those activities. “My son would always open up when we played catch. We had some great conversations playing together.” says Angela Leever, mom of three. Playtime gives your child a safe place to share their feelings and express worries. By spending time doing what they enjoy, you are showing them they are important and you are there for them.

Find a mutual interest

What is your child interested in? If your child enjoys reading, create a two person book club and discuss the books as you read. If your child loves football, make game night a family event and cheer on your team. If your child is interested in dinosaurs, visit a museum. Since some of my lifelong friends grew from playing sports or participating in activities together, the same can be assumed when we are talking about parent-child bonding. If you truly enjoy activities together, a stronger bond will naturally form. “When they show interest in a sport, music, games, hobby, or even a TV show, I will find free time to do it together.” says Michelle Lyons, mom of three. “I have found that while they are doing something they enjoy they are more likely to talk about other things in their life”.

Tell them you love them & why

It is likely your children know you love them but how often do you tell them? Saying I love you to your child has powerfully positive effects for your child. “My kids and I have something we do in the car.” says Pricella Edwords. “I reach back and lightly squeeze their legs three times which means “I love you’. They know and will often say ‘I love you, too, mom”. Try not just saying you love them, but tell them why. “I love you because you are so fun to be around.” Or, “I love you because you care about others.” Words are powerful tools to give our kids the self confidence they need to face the world and they are a great way to bond with your child.

Similarly, snuggling, hugs, kisses, pats on the back, or even tickling and wrestling give your child the physical affection and bonding they crave from their parents and creates a strong bond.

Make Them a Priority

Put down your phone and talk to your child. Show them that they are your number one priority. If you have a task that needs to be done, ask them to let you finish it and when it’s complete, give your child your full attention. “We read together before bed long after the story book years.” says Amy Cameron, mom of three. “Books spark discussion and debate and it’s an experience they will have forever.” If you have multiple children, it can be hard to spend one-on-one time with them. Set aside time to go on a “date” with each of your children so you can connect and check-in with what they have going on. Ask them open-ended questions and then listen to the answers. When you commit to making your child a priority, they will feel important and it will help to strengthen your relationship.

Create A Helper

For the busy parent, finding the time to make quality moments is a daunting task in addition to all your other responsibilities.. To ease this try incorporating them into your daily tasks. While you are cooking dinner, doing dishes, or folding laundry, ask your child to help and start up a conversation. Some kids may bond with their parents over fixing the car, painting, gardening, or any household task. Not only are you creating a great opportunity to spend time together but you are teaching them life skills and a good work ethic. Amy Siebert, mom of two, suggests talking to your kids while you are in the car. “We spend a lot of time driving between activities. That’s where our best conversations happen.” Mom of three, Carrie Miller says “Our most meaningful conversations happen before bedtime. It’s always worth the extra time, even when I’m tired from a long day.”

Love Them No Matter What

One of the best ways to build a healthy bond with your child is to let them know you will love them no matter what. You communicate this by listening to their problems, offering advice when appropriate and then respecting their decisions, even if it will have negative consequences. If your child makes a mistake, let them know you are there to love and support them through the challenges that they may face. “I’m vulnerable with my children and tell them when I mess up and apologize when I do.” says Sarah Clark, mom of two. “I ask them to do the same for me. This authenticity creates a closer bond because they understand I’m not just an authoritarian parent figure.” Everyone needs to know they have someone in their corner, especially on the bad days. Barb Shapiro, mom of six, says “Validate their feelings and truly listen when they talk. This let’s them know how important they are to me and it’s not hard to do.”

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