Connecting With Our Children
One of our children’s most basic needs is a stable connection to us, their parents. Critical to their emotional health is this feeling of connectedness to us, enabling them to feel loved, understood and wanted.
Much has been said in recent years regarding the importance of bonding with baby. Everyone knows the value of physical contact, skin-to-skin time post , responding to baby’s cries, laughing together etc., but how do we ensure to remain connected with our children as they grow? What about connecting with our children as toddlers or even teenagers?
Here are three important moments in our children’s days that can be used to make a huge investment in our relationships with them, the payoff of which is emotionally healthy children and strong family relationships.
When your children wake each day is your first opportunity for connection. It is at this time that our children are going through their first transition of the day – from sleeping to awake and all the business of the day. Five minutes of connection at this time of day can transform your morning! By starting the day with connection, our children are so much more likely to be co-operative!
This time of day has presented the largest challenge for me. I have the habit of being all business in the morning, and barking orders at my kids to get dressed and get to work before I’ve even seen the whites of their eyes. It takes a lot of conscious effort on my part to make connection a priority at this time of day.
Here are some ideas for connecting in the morning:
- Make eye contact first thing. Look your child in the eye, and let them know they are important to you.
- Use their name. Greet your child warmly, “Good morning, Sarah! How did you sleep?”
- Hug. Start the day with physical contact! My kids just love it when mommy sleeps in a bit and they can all crawl in bed with me for a few minutes and snuggle. Psychologist Virginia Satir states that everyone needs at least 8 hugs each day, so let’s get on it from the start!
Besides being critical in establishing healthy eating habits and good attitudes about food, mealtimes provide the opportunity to the whole family to connect by enjoying each other’s company. It’s a great time to reconnect after a busy day of pursuing individual interests and tasks, whether out of the home or not. Eating together is a time to relax, tell stories and include everyone.
As homeschoolers, we have more opportunity for family eating than most families, but we do make our evening meal a higher priority. During the day, the children occasionally eat separately, and I often eat lunch in the kitchen on my own. But at suppertime everyone eats together, waits for one another, and connects. It’s the only time of the day that this book loving mama doesn’t allow books at the table!
Bedtime is a great time to connect with our children. A ten minute investment of our time at the end of their day provides them with a safe time to express their emotions, repair any injuries to our relationship, and express forgiveness to one another. It’s also a great time of day to pray with our children. It is well worth it to start bedtime a little earlier to allow more time for it rather than yelling “get in bed NOW!!” in frustration.
I have always enjoyed the bedtime routines in our family. In the early years it involved lullabies, rocking and snuggling, and it still does for my toddler. For my bigger girls, the primary focus is now reading aloud, and it’s my favourite time of the day! I still try to make sure to always end the day with a hug or some snuggles, I don’t think children (or parents!) ever outgrow that need — remember to get in your 8-12 servings of hugs a day!
How do you make sure to stay connected to your children as they grow?