During isolation, families were spending a lot more time at home together, but that doesn’t translate to feeling more connected. I hear parents sharing how they were so busy managing work, preparing meals, keeping the house running, and supervising home learning for the kids, that they felt more exhausted than ever, emotional connection was the last thing on their mind. Even though they saw more of their kids, the time at home did not manifest to feeling more connected.
With or without isolation, we constantly have things going on in our busy modern lifestyle, it is easy to neglect connecting with the people closest to us. Between running a home, raising kids and/or dogs, keeping up with work, planning meals, shopping, school activities and all the other “to-do” list every day, means that a lot of the times, emotional connection has taken a back seat.
Have you ever felt like you are not as connected with your child as much as you would like? Feeling connected and loved is one of the most important ingredients in nurturing children with healthy self-esteem…and parents need it too. I remind myself that although the days can be long at times, the years are short. With the blink of an eye, our young child would be learning to drive, graduating high school, leaving home, and starting their own adult life. I don’t want to miss any of their growing up. I want to build meaningful memories and deep bond when we can, not just for our child but also for myself.
I’ve learnt that, building connection with our kids require setting an intention on our part, to put it as a priority in our “to-do” list, and to have them set as part of our daily routine. Building strong connection does not necessarily require big efforts and large chunks of time. Many of the things we can do, so that our child feels loved and connected, don’t even take up 10 minutes a day. And doing one or a few of them every day will develop a deep and meaningful connection with your child no matter how busy you are.
I’ve put together a list of 10 easy ways to connect meaningfully with your child here. This list is just a start as it might spark up other ideas in your mind as you read it.
1. Ask your child about their day. Use open-ended questions such as, “How was your day?”, “What do you like most about your day?” My 7 years old sometimes gives me a one word answer like “Good!”, so I’d follow that with, “What makes today a good day for you?”, “Which was the best part for you?”
2. When they have something to say, give them undivided attention. When your child comes to you with a question or something to show you, whatever the reason may be, stop what you are doing and give him/her your full attention. This is you showing, not ‘telling’, but ‘showing’ your child that what they have to say is important to you. They are important to you.
3. Make eye-contact when your child enters the room. The joy and acceptance they see in your eyes will fill their little heart beyond any material gift you could ever give them.
4. Tell your child something that you appreciate about them on a regular basis (this will work really well for your spouse as well 😊). This could be anything big or small, like if they brought their plate into the kitchen, they said “I love you.”, or an act of kindness to you or others.
5. Set aside 10 minutes to just be with your child. Put away all electronic devices and simply ‘be’ with your child. Let them take the lead, they may want you to play with their toys, build something together, do a craft together, draw together, or simply for you to tickle or chase them around. (This can be a stress releasing time for you too.)
6. Help your child see their qualities and honor their uniqueness. Tell them something about them that you think is awesome regularly.
7. Have family meals together as often as possible. Go around the table and get everyone to share what’s on their mind, what they are thinking of – it can be random, silly or serious.
8. Have a bedtime routine where you do at least one thing together, such as brushing teeth, setting up the bed, getting ready for the next day, or reading together.
9. Schedule special Parent-Child Dates. You can go for a movie, a concert, go to have their favorite food, try something new, attend a painting/drawing class together, go to the museum, a boat ride, or the zoo. Experience something together.
10. Enjoy nature together. Go for a walk, ride the bike, look at nature, point out nature to each other like a flock of birds, squirrels, clouds, trees, flowers or bugs, collect leaves, plant a seed, and so many more.
Hope this list will inspire and spark some new ideas for you to connect with your child in meaningful ways every single day.
Your Parenting Partner x