Establishing deep connections with children helps them feel safe, supported, and deeply invested in. By building quality connections with your child you demonstrate that you value your relationship and want to protect it at all costs. Another benefit of building strong connections with your child is that it will foster a cooperative attitude. The child will be more likely to cooperate because he/she values connection and doesn’t want to lose it.
The list below offers helpful tools to increase the connection you have with your child:
Ask open-ended questions. Open-ended questions foster connection with children because it encourages them to engage in conversation. Close-ended questions such as “How was your day?” are not specific and won’t get much more than a one word response. Instead, try asking questions like: “Who did you play with today?” or “What was something cool you learned about today.” As your child shares what’s important to him/her, you will feel more connected with one another.
If you do something wrong, apologize. We all make mistakes. When we do it causes a disconnect in the relationship with the one we hurt. When you fail, apologize to your child and ask for their forgiveness. Apologizing will help repair the relationship, build trust, win their heart, and restore your connection.
Create an environment of connection by seeking to understand and not react. It can be really difficult to respond with empathy when your natural response is to lecture your child when you disagree. If you can resist the urge and instead seek to understand your child’s point of view, you will strengthen your relationship. Your child will remember your desire to connect over winning an argument.
Identify how your child feels loved. Gary Chapman wrote a book called The 5 Love Languages and in the book he identifies 5 different ways people receive love which he calls love languages. By identifying your child’s love language and speaking it you will connect with her heart and strengthen your connection. To take the love language quiz click here.
Let your child know you’re on his/her side. In the classic book by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish titled, “How To Talk To So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk” the authors encourage parents to communicate you’re on your child’s side even when you set a limit. If your three year old is yelling for Cheerios but his older sibling just finished the last bite, let him know you would give him a bowl if you had more, but you ran out. Sometimes children, especially toddlers, simply need to know you’re on their side, connected to their desires, and you care about them. This stops many a tantrum!
If you have connection tips, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will share them in a future blog post!
(photo credit : bossip)