Before having kids, life seems busy. After kids, life is NUTS! It's so easy to get caught up in everything that is going on around us - work related problems, bills that need to be paid, clothes to be laundered - but getting sucked in to our To-Do lists can make us overlook the most important task in our lives: our children.
If you want to create a stronger bond with your child or reconnect with them, it is imperative to take as many moments as you can to stop other tasks you are doing(or thinking about), turn off the technology, and truly listen to your child. Want to know a few tips for connecting with your little (or big) ones? We offer the following four ideas.
- Show interest in your child’s interests. Does your four-year-old love trains? Hit the train museum on a rainy day. Does your ten-year-old enjoy watching a specific show? Even if one more episode may send you over the brink of sanity, sit down with him, watch it, and discuss it as you do. Become an active participant in the activities your child enjoys, because this shows that you care for who they are and what they like to do.
- Create tech-free zones. Technology is everywhere today, and even when we are doing something else, it is easy to stop and check our emails or send a text. To fully connect with your child (or anyone else), it’s important to schedule tech-free time. Don’t bring a phone to the dinner table. Spend this time talking about the day with your family. Don’t check your Facebook status when you are supposed to be watching your child play soccer. Post those game pictures later, when the game is over. Skip browsing your emails when you are having game night with your family because they can wait. Pediatrician, Dr. Cara Natterson says if you are attempting to connect with your child while you engage in technology-surfing, you are telling your child that other people are just as important as he or she is.
- Set aside time to give your child your undivided attention. Family therapist, Susan Stiffelman suggests that during this time ask specific questions about your child’s life. You may ask, “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” You might express your happiness at a task they completed, or you might spend time doing something fun, like playing a board game or taking a walk. During these times, don’t try to fold a load of clothes or make a quick call.
- Create as many GEMs as you can. Parent educator, Kim DeMarchi recommends creating GEMs, or genuine encounter moments, throughout the day. To do so, when your child comes to you to show or tell you something, you should stop, look your child in the eye, listen to what he or she has to say, and then respond by asking a question or making a comment. You might also make physical contact by giving your child a hug or touching his or her back. A GEM, adds DeMarchi, is from the heart, not the head, and it is a time when you can completely connect with your child.
What are a few things you do to connect with your child each day?