5 Quick Tips on How to Renew Your Connection with Your Child
Read below to find out how you can show care and concern, and most importantly LOVE, to your children to help them know they are heard, validated and valued.
It is springtime already! I seems like school just started, and we all had to adjust back into a structured routine. And now here is a new Spring, and with that sparks a new desire to share experiences and memories with those we love. However, it is so incredibly easy to keep going with our busy schedules, stay tapped into our social media feeds and continue working on that important project after we are home from work. We all know that changing our routines and habits is hard work, and we may chose to avoid these changes – so as to not disrupt what seems to be “ok”. We all desire connection and meaningful relationships, and our kids do too, they crave the love that we have to give.
When I think of Springtime, I sometimes think of a new start, refreshing, hope, and of course the idea of being outside with my kids and with Molly, our Therapy Dog. I value quality time with my loved ones, and often think about new ways of showing them I am connected to them and want to spend time with them. I did not realize, at the time, the impact my choices to be intentional with my kids would have on them as adults. I chose to show them affection, be expectant but loving, create fun ways for them to learn life skills, spend time with them fully attentive to them and nothing else.
Let’s talk creativity in finding new ways to connect with your child. When I think of ways to create this for kids, I think about a book that was an important part of my life when my kids were young, “The 5 Love Languages of Children: The Secret to Loving Children Effectively”, by Gary Chapman, PhD and Ross Campbell, MD. This book details how children feel love, and ways that we, as their caregivers and adults, can show them that they matter, they are an important part of our family, and that they are loved.
Words of Affirmation
Words are powerful. We have all had experiences where someone has said something to us that has either evoked a feeling of pride, as well as hurt. Words do matter. Give your child compliments, “You worked really hard this week studying for your math facts test”. “Way to go!! You did it!”. Send an encouraging text message to your teen, of course with emojis! Brighten up their day with something thoughtful and meaningful. If this is new to you, start with leaving a sticky note on the mirror, “Have a great day today!”. Knowing that someone values us, is connected to us, and believes in us affirms not only our humanness, but also our value to our world.
Time is precious. Time is so incredibly hard to come by for busy families. Build times during your week to spend together with no interruptions. And yes, that does mean without the television on, social media streams (even snapchat!), video games, work emails and anything else that may pose a distraction to your connected time with your kids. This does not have to involve any cost; take a walk around the block, or play catch in the backyard. Let your kid know that you want to spend time with, and let your kid pick the activity. Here is a short list of fun things you can do for 15 minutes and laugh together, and maybe even begin a nice conversation. It is okay for all of the kids and adults to spend quality time together, in addition to one-on-one time with each child or teen.
- Play keep it up with a balloon
- Play a game of Uno or Candyland
- Make dinner together
Being thought of is wonderful. When thinking about giving and receiving gifts, we normally think of a birthday gift, or something big and costly. However, this is not about that! This is more about gifting your affection, attention and attendance. Of course, you can always give a small material token, such as a toy car, baseball cards or Pokemon cards, slime, phone case, etc., just because. What the gift is really about is investing in your child in a way that your child understands its value. Attend your child’s event. Make your child’s favorite dessert for after dinner (or better yet, make it with them!). Draw a picture or frame a photograph of a fun and meaningful memory that you and your child share together, and leave it for your child on their night stand, or taped to the mirror.
Acts of Service
Have you ever felt appreciative after someone did something for you? Kids also love it when someone does something for them, as well. Helping them with homework, without judgement or expectation. Helping them with their chores if they are trying, but struggling to complete them. Or maybe they have had a rough week, and just need a little support. Ask your kid, “I notice that you are having a tough time. How would you like me to help you? I am here to help”. Not only will you be giving of yourself and time, but you are also making a strong emotional connection with your kid that they matter, and you noticed something about them.
Positive and gentle touch initiates so many reactions in your brain and being. Children have the same needs, and even more importantly, is this helps with their overall development. Providing positive touch through facial expressions, hugs, high fives, fist bumps are all examples of some physical expression of love. Sit on the couch close and read a book together. Put your arm around your child or teen while walking and talking. Gentle touches, such as when applying essential oils, laying your hand on their shoulder during a conversation, touching their hand while watching a movie together. All of these are examples of positive physical touch. Research about positive physical touch as promoting a secure attachment response, and ultimately a connectedness and a safe base for relationships.
With change, there is usually a struggle. Try to implement one or two of these this week with your child or teen. You may notice that your child or teen is pleasantly engaged by your efforts, although you may also experience some resistance. Be persistent. Cultivate the relationship you want with your kids. Take the steps you need to be fully engaged, present and available for your kids. Model what you want from your kids by expressing through one of the 5 Love Languages.
If your relationship with your child or teen is struggling, and you are interested in some additional support, please reach out by contacting us here. We have talented and skilled counselors that can help you and your family on a journey of peace, balance and quality relationships.