Summer is an ideal time to hone in on your CONNECTION with your children.
I’ve written about this before, but in helping clients who are going through challenges with their kids, I keep coming back to the foundational words of Daniel Siegel, ” For a child or an adult, it’s extremely powerful to hear someone say, “I get you. I understand. I see why you feel this way.” This kind of empathy disarms us.”
What is Connection?
Connection is not just being physically present, but emotionally present. Connection means putting yourself into a child’s experience, imagining what it’s like to be them. Connection is about finding joy in being in your child’s presence. Connection is being interested & curious about them.
- Connection makes children not feel alone
- Connection makes children feel important
- Connection increases a child’s self esteem
- Connection becomes internalized and gives children confidence
Why is connection sometimes difficult with children?
- Maybe the connection wasn’t role modeled to us as kids? It may not come naturally. We may have to be more aware of it and work at it. Be mindful when we are with our kids. Am I seeing them, listening to them and curious as to what they may be feeling?
- Our own “busy” lives get in the way. We might be busy planning and ruminating about what we need to do, what has happened in the past. If we are not present, we cannot connect.
- We could be caught up in our own emotions and not be in the moment.
- We’re on auto pilot just going through the motions.
Don’t beat yourself up for any of this. We are all human and have busy lives. We’ve all walked in the door and our children want our attention, but we are focused on what just happened in our day, getting dinner on the table and bath and bedtime rituals. It’s just a matter of catching ourselves and carving out those quality moments. We don’t need to focus on them 24/7, but make them feel seen and acknowledged when we have time to be present.
How do we cultivate connection with our kids?
- Practice mindfulness. Mindfulness helps us work with our emotional states so that we can be present to others. Mindfulness helps us get grounded and present.
- Detach from screens! Watching movies and shows with your child can be a great activity, but build in other activities that are about talking, learning and discovering.
- Establish times of day to commit to connection. It can be 15 minutes of play after school, or in the evening after dinner. Or, maybe it’s part of the bedtime ritual when you can discuss their day. This is also a good time to connect about issues or challenges they might be experiencing. You can ask them more difficult questions in these quieter periods. For Example, “What was so scary about going to your friend Johnny’s house?” “I’ve noticed you getting mad at your brother. How can we get you to play better together? “
- Or, with your older kids sometimes you have to catch them when they’re open to talking. If you barrage them with questions when they’re not “feeling it”; often it will backfire. When tweens & teens are open to sharing, that is your window of opportunity.
- Learn to Listen. Just listen without judgment. As they get older, don’t always interject your thoughts and feelings. Just listen and be present. This was a tough one for me…and for many of us. We want to help and take away their pain, but often they just want you to listen.
A good and healthy connection with your child is very helpful when times are tough and your child is being challenged in some way. Their connection to you will build their self esteem and confidence. They will learn to trust their own instincts.
Your child’s foundation is a healthy CONNECTION to you.
A new school year is on the horizon and our days start to get busier and more complicated. How do we balance our own anxieties of what is going on in the world, with working and staying present as a parent? Parenting is tough without all the additional stressors.
If you or someone you know is looking for some parenting support to get the school year started & on track, please reach out.