At the end of the day, what parents really want is to feel a real, deep and lasting emotional bond with their kids.
There are seven simple ways that you can work toward building a deep, emotional bond with your kids from playtime to down time, read on for how you can get connected right now.
1. Make time for playtime. One of the best ways that parents can connect with their children is through play. Not only does play release energy and provide opportunities to be involved in a child’s world, it is also how children process their inner feelings and work out their little-kid real-life issues. Parents who take the time to play with their children strengthen their understanding of their children’s emotional world. True emotional connections are made when parents get down on the floor and play with their kids. Drink imaginary tea, build the Lego castle and piece together those puzzles. Your bond with your child will be all the better for it.
2. Plug in … emotionally. Children can experience a wide range of emotions each day from happy to sad, frustrated to triumphant — what may seem to us a trivial moment can be a big deal for them. Parents have to make the effort to “plug in” to what their children are feeling, and that understanding what they are feeling and why can create a
3. Build in a few extra minutes to your day. Whether you are rushing out the door for school in the morning, loading up for big brother’s baseball practice, or just heading out to run errands, building in a few minutes can make transitions much less painful for both you and your children and can provide crucial opportunities for bonding.
If you can make it into the car you have an opportunity to spend those extra 10 or 15 minutes really talking with your kids. Dissect their days, talk through any emotions or feelings they may be experiencing. Or, use the time as an opportunity to turn up some tunes and sing out loud together — letting go and being silly with your kids is a great way to bond emotionally.
4. Fess up when you slip up. Nobody’s perfect. As parents it’s a given that we will make mistakes as we learn and grow alongside of our kids. But it’s important to remember that in addition to teaching our children, we are also serving as their constant role models. And that includes admitting when you’re wrong and saying that you’re sorry.
When “fessing up,” be specific, identify the behaviors for which you are apologizing, and share the feelings you were experiencing at the time and how you felt afterwards. Your mistakes and shortcomings can serve as a wonderful opportunity for you to be a good role model.
5. Let your kids be themselves. Have you ever stopped to consider how your children’s individual temperaments affect the way you connect with one another? You have to respect your children for who they are — and that includes honoring the ways they are different from one another and different from you. As hard as it can sometimes be to let go, giving your children the freedom to be themselves can help them to grow and develop as people, and it will also strengthen the connection and bond between you. When we honor our children, they in turn honor us. Children who are respected and emotion coached can be incredibly resourceful.
6. Replace your anger with empathy. When tantrums take over and tempers flare, it can be a constant challenge to keep your cool. Pick your battles and know that nothing is so important that it warrants extreme anger and coerciveness with your child. Being honest with your child is more effective than hauling off on her. Children who are raised in homes where empathy is the norm are usually empathetic to their parents, and this creates a happier environment for everyone.
7. Take time for yourself on a regular basis. On special holidays like Mother’s Day, moms will often be treated to breakfast in bed, a day at the spa, or maybe even a little free time to do something for themselves. It doesn’t always have to be a big event — tacking on 30 extra minutes to an errand to grab a latte or flip through magazines at the bookstore can work wonders for restoring your sanity and recharging your batteries. If we don’t take time for ourselves, we will eventually lash out at our loved ones, and that will prevent you from having the connection and bond with your children that you long for.
Copyright 2010, K.Blaine, from her book, www.TheGoToMomsGuide.com.