Ever since our children were babies, we all have those moments that just melt our hearts. Those moments of connection are what make relationships last a lifetime. Connection is the only reason why children do things willingly, and what makes parents’ hearts leap out of their chests. These daily habits to enhance a parent-child relationship will help you to build a strong connection with your children which leads them WANTING to cooperate.
Connection is so powerful, however, a parent-child relationship often consists of connection and disconnection which is normal, everyone experiences feeling connected and disconnected. But parents can often feel so distant and disconnected to their children and they don’t know how to rekindle the relationship.
We are only human, there will be days where you may only be able to meet the basic needs of your children. Parenting is the TOUGHEST job on the planet! and it is often taken on as a side job after being separated most of the day. If you want to create and/or keep a strong connection with your children that will really stand the test of time. Implement these daily habits into your life to help build a strong connection between you and your children.
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Daily Habits To Enhance a Parent-child Relationship
Spend Quality One-OnOne Time
There is a difference between the quality of time and the number (quantity) of time parents spend with their children. Children know when you spend 15 minutes of good undistracted quality time with them, instead of how often you “spent time” with them but that time is spend by scrolling Facebook or Instagram.
I think all parents do both! I am just as guilty of spending quantity time but maybe not enough quality time with my children too. Research shows that parents should spend at least 15 minutes of quality one-on-one time with each child. I get this is a lot easier said than done but it doesn’t mean it isn’t impossible. Try your best to spend 15 minutes of good quality one-on-one time with each of your children.
You will be surprised at how much you can learn about your children in those 15 minutes!
Hug & Tell Your Child you Love Them Multiple Times A Day
A physical touch such as a hug is a great way to show your affection towards your children. Hugging also helps them to feel safe and secure therefor strengthening your relationship with them. Same with the words “I Love You” children need to feel and hear that they are loved every day, EVEN when they are expressing big emotions.
A few ways you can create this habit is by snuggling up to them before bed and the first thing in the morning, giving a big hug before leaving for school or a friend’s house. If you have teens who are more reluctant to show such affection especially around their peers, don’t force them to hug you, you can simply squeeze their hand or arm lightly, pat them on the back and let your teen know what hugging and saying “I love you” is a healthy way to show love and affection and that it’s not a bad thing.
Enter Their World
If you want your children to meet you in your world, then you need to meet them in their world too. This is best achieved through play! The book Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen is one of my all-time favorite parenting books. In the book Playful Parenting, Lawrence says “asking children to stop playing is like asking an adult to stop talking”. Children play to not only have fun but to work out their emotions and to help them understand the world!
No matter what age your children are, you call ALWAYS connect with them in their world. If your toddler likes to play cars, then play cars together. If your teenage daughter loves fashion and is always talking about it, then do a mini fashion show together. Play is not always the easiest for adults to do, and I think that is because adults have forgotten how to play and/or adult play is talking, sitting, etc.
If you want to build a stronger parent-child relationship, start with play!
Connection Before Cooperation
When you connect with your child you will see that they cooperate so much easier and leads to less power struggle and/or arguments.
The same goes for getting children to listen to you! It is so frustrating when your children don’t listen or cooperate, you may not be in a mood to connect first. However, the more you are able to connect to your child the more they will listen and cooperate.
For example, our daughter would not let me wash her hair when she would take baths, and getting her to wash her hair usually turned into a HUGE power struggle. So what we started to do instead, was connect by tickling (because she loves to be tickled), and then she would wash her plastic bath toy animals while I washed her hair. BOOM! no power struggle and bath time were actually fun for both of us.
The same when it comes to brushing teeth. We connect first and play games when we brush teeth before going to bed.
Hold Space For ALL Emotions
When children are experiencing big emotions such as anger, frustration, whining, sadness, etc. They tend to communicate those emotions by hitting, yelling, bitting, shutting down, distancing themselves, tantrums, or even hiding in their room. What your children are trying to tell you is that they have big emotions and don’t know how to deal with them or how to safely express them.
The term “hold space” means you welcome your children’s emotions without judgment, labeling, shaming, or blaming. Now, this doesn’t mean that they get to hit, or break stuff. It means that you calmly take them to a safe place and “hold space” for them to get their emotions out (or we say “get cries out”).
Children who feel safe enough to express their emotions, know that you love them no matter what, you will both be strengthening your relationship together.
Be Present & Show Up
More often than not, children just want their parents to be present with them and show up. This means putting down your phone when you are spending one-on-one time together, and show up when you say you will play a game with them or go outside. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is to not make empty promises.
If you can’t promise that you can play with them without being distracted, it is better to tell your child that you want to play with them but right this moment you are needing to get things done and you can play in 10-15 minutes when you can give them your full attention.
As parents, we all get caught up in the rush of our busy and slam packed schedules. Instead of rushing through the motions of the day, slow down and savor the moments. Laugh together, play together, let them show you their new dance move or new trick they can do on their bike. When they bring a bug in the house, instead of getting mad, go outside and study the bug together. Because before you know it, they will be all grown up and living their own life.
Put Away Technology
Moderation in all things. There is a time and place for technology, but try your best to not be on your phone when spending time with your children also, try not to use TV as a way to connect with your children. Children need one-to-one interactions with their parents, they learn how to socially interact and they get their connection cups full.
In the book Playful Parenting that I mentioned above, it mentions how tv does not provide the same amount of connection and stimulus as that of a parent. That is why it is important to put away technology when connecting with our children so that their connection cup can be filled.
Eat Meals Together
A recent survey conducted by Eckrich, a product of ConAgra Foods, found that 40 percent of American families eat dinner together only three or fewer times a week, with 10 percent never eating dinner together at all. Eckrich went on listing the benefits of having family dinner for each age group. Here is what he listed:
As children grow their schedules get just as busy as ours. If there is only one meal you can all eat together. Try to best to make it a dinner meal.
Affirmations do an amazing job at building trust and support with children, and they are something simple you can do every day. Saying a simple phrase such as “I am so proud of you” or “wow, you figured it out even though it was hard” can go a long way with children. These phrases can bring confidence to their lives when they are struggling to find it within themselves.
Watch for the positive and “good” things your children do during the day, make sure to get to their level and say these affirmations in a meaningful way. If you don’t believe what you are saying is true, your children will pick up on it.
Anytime we notice Bobbie or Owen sharing, or ask for something nicely we make sure to look them in the eye’s and say “thank you for asking so nicely or thank you for sharing so well.” Another one we say a lot is “I am so proud of you, how do you feel?”
Here is an example of what positive affirmations looks like. The other day Bobbie was outside playing with her friends and all of her friends started to fight and argue. Bobbie came inside and said “mommy, friends fight, Bobbie, go on a walk” This surprised me since we have been teaching her lately that she doesn’t have to play with people that don’t make her feel happy inside.
So, we went on a walk and I told her that I was so proud of her for noticing how she was feeling and that she didn’t want to be around her friends when they were fighting. I asked her how felt afterward and she said “Bobbie feel GREAT!”
Words of affirmations goes a long way with children of all ages.
Get Curious Not Furious
When our connection is lost between our children, get curious as ask why they misbehaved or said what they said instead of getting furious which tends to create more distance between each other’s connection. When you get curious about the behavior and actively listen, you are showing your child that you value their emotions and what they have to say. Not many people now days know how to actively listen. Why is that? Is it because we are all so busy, or that we don’t have the time?
Actively listen is composed of 5 things:
- Listen without judgment
- Listen Intently
- Refrain from interrupting
- Refrain from comparing
- Show that you are listening
When we take the time to actively listen we are allowing the speaker to fuller to be heard and empathized with. Connection happens when we actively listen. When you are able to step into your child’s shoes and see things from their perspective you are more able to find a win-win solution. This also helps you to better understand the reasons behind your child’s behaviors, leading you to better regulate your own emotions during the heat of the moment.
When you are actively listening make sure you are also being empathic towards your child’s emotions and thoughts. This process of being empathetic and curious will help create a connection once again.
Ask About Their Day
I love hearing about my kid’s day. Even though I am with them the majority of the time and I know what has happened, I love hearing their day from their perspective and words. Asking about your child’s day shows that you are interested in and involved with them. Now if you ask and you get an “it was fine” response doesn’t take it personally. They may just need to connect with you first before opening up and talking about their day.
Don’t poke and prod to get your children to answer you, this makes them not want to open up if they feel like they are being forced to talk about their day. You can simply let them know that you would love to hear about their day when they are ready to tell you. BUT here is a little SECRET when your child starts talking about their day, make sure you stop what you are doing, and listen to them. If you can’t stop what you are doing, let them know that you would love to hear about there day and that you can give them your full attention in 10 minutes. Make sure to follow through!
Connect Through Physical Touch
Our daughter connects through physical touches such as tickling, hugging, holding hands, and even a stoke on her head or back. Our boy connects through play, and I share this with you so that you can see that each child will connect differently. Just because one of your children doesn’t connect through physical touch DOESN”T mean that they don’t need physical touch.
Appropriate touching to show affection is incredibly important since it helps children to feel secure, safe, and loved unconditionally.
Again in the book Playful Parenting, it talks about how physical touch such as wrestling, hugging, tickling, a pat on the back, etc helps children regulate their emotions and feel loved.
I like to think of connection like a rope that is tied between each family member and when something happens which creates a disconnection it is like that rope got untied. Connection in parenting is so important to help develop daily habits to enhance a parent-child relationship. Connection and disconnect are normal and it happens, but you can strengthen your connection and make the rope bigger by doing these tips above.
When a parent and child get into a good flow of connection everyone in the household will notice how peaceful, happy, calm, and loved everyone is. Sure there will be moments of disconnection that is why it is important to notice when there is a disconnection so that you and your child can come up with a solution to connect and enhance your parent-child relationship.