Our hearts long for those moments when we are close to our children.
Before we became parents, parenthood seemed wonderful and our little mini-me looked up to us.
Now that we are parents, we’re buried in the hassles of life day after day.
Many of us have lost touch with what’s important to us.
The bond we have with our children and the satisfaction of seeing them succeed makes parenting worth it.
However, how much time do you spend connecting with your child every day?
Connecting with Kids is the Best Discipline
As parents, we spend so much time teaching our children about life. We guide, remind, nag, criticize, and yell.
Sometimes it seems like we just yell all day long.
Just getting the kids to bed and feeding everyone is a miracle, let alone connecting with them.
Did you know that having a good connection with children drastically reduces the amount of time we have to teach them?
When children feel connected to us, they readily follow our guidance. Though they may not have the cognitive or emotional skills to do exactly what we ask, they want to listen to us.
They do want to cooperate whenever they can if they feel close to us.
Connecting with your child instead of correcting them will have a huge impact on their behavior and your relationship.
7 Tips on Connecting With Kids
Here is a list of ideas to help you connect with your child. Put your relationship with your child first and make them a daily priority.
Show attention and affection
You don’t need tons of time to connect with your child. Little things you do to show them you care about them will go a long way.
For instance, if they tell you about their day after school while you’re cleaning the kitchen. Stop the work and listen attentively for five minutes.
Surprise them with hugs and kisses throughout the day.
Look at and listen to your child when they talk to you instead of looking at the phone.
All these little things show that you care about them and they are your priority.
It’s proven that shared laughter improves relationships1.
Embrace humor in your life and laugh with them.
Make a funny noise, do a silly dance, sing a made-up song, play rough-housing, etc.
Turn your child’s mistake into a teaching opportunity instead of lecturing or punishing.
Punishment breaks the connection and harms your relationship. Harsh punishment such as corporal punishment is also a risk factor for child development2.
On the other hand, teaching with kindness creates connections and bolsters your relationship.
Connecting with kids while you teach makes this the most effective form of discipline.
Don’t shy from negative emotions
Being attuned to a child’s negative feelings3 and empathizing with them4 is one of the best connection moments and fastest ways to strengthen a connection.
Do that when they are sad, upset, or even angry.
Avoid saying things that directly or indirectly invalidate them.
Probably all of us were brought up with “It’s ok”, “It’s no big deal”, or “it’ll go away.”
Did they really make us feel better? I bet not.
It made us feel like our feelings were wrong or not important. So don’t do that to your child.
Show them that you care about their feelings to build a strong connection.
Put the phone away
Media use can undermine communication and disrupt interpersonal relationships.
Children report being disappointed when their parents don’t look up from their phones at dinner or bring their phones to school events6.
Make time for connection
Take some time to talk with your child about their day either one-on-one or as a family.
Dinners are usually a good time to do that.
Have a no-screen rule at dinner to truly enjoy one another’s company and create a meaningful connection.
Hugs, hugs, and more hugs
Parenting is hard.
On some days, you don’t even have the time or energy to take a shower (I’m not the only one, right?)
Hugging someone doesn’t take much effort.
A hug or simple touch helps us reconnect, build a closer connection, and elevate our mood7. It can make you a happier parent.
Both parents and children benefit from hugging mentally and physically.
A hug can also help calm an upset child when they are distressed.
- 1.Bazzini DG, Stack ER, Martincin PD, Davis CP. The Effect of Reminiscing about Laughter on Relationship Satisfaction. Motiv Emot. Published online October 19, 2006:25-34. doi:10.1007/s11031-006-9045-6
- 2.Sege RD, Siegel BS, Flaherty EG, et al. Effective Discipline to Raise Healthy Children. Pediatrics. Published online December 1, 2018. doi:10.1542/peds.2018-3112
- 3.Dombrowski SC, Timmer SG, Blacker DM, Urquiza AJ. A positive behavioural intervention for toddlers: parent-child attunement therapy. Child Abuse Review. Published online 2005:132-151. doi:10.1002/car.888
- 4.Stern JA, Borelli JL, Smiley PA. Assessing parental empathy: a role for empathy in child attachment. Attachment & Human Development. Published online November 6, 2014:1-22. doi:10.1080/14616734.2014.969749
- 5.Laible D. Does It Matter if Preschool Children and Mothers Discuss Positive vs. Negative Events During Reminiscing? Links with Mother-reported Attachment, Family Emotional Climate, and Socioemotional Development. Social Development. Published online October 27, 2010:394-411. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9507.2010.00584.x
- 6.Turkle S. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. Hachette ; 2017.
- 7.Kutner JS, Smith MC, Corbin L, et al. Massage Therapy versus Simple Touch to Improve Pain and Mood in Patients with Advanced Cancer. Ann Intern Med. Published online September 16, 2008:369. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-149-6-200809160-00003