Being a parent is hard, and one of the major struggles of parenthood is forming a connection with your child. Many parents worry that they don’t know their children as much as they would’ve liked to.
This can lead to a rift opening between families, hurting parents and their kids alike.
Here are six ways you can try to connect with your child and strengthen the bond between you and them.
1. Friendly Communication
Healthy communication can be one of the simplest ways to grow closer to your child. Talk to your children regularly. Tell them about your day and ask them about theirs. Listen attentively when they’re talking, put your laptop or phone away, maintain eye contact, and ask questions about whatever they tell you. This will show your child that you cared about whatever they told you and gave them your undivided attention.
A recent study shows that when your kids are talking to you, using engaged listening techniques such as maintaining eye contact and nodding can significantly affect your child’s willingness to open up to you. It’s also important not to expect your child to completely open up to you since it takes time, especially for teens, to trust their parents and share their feelings about a world they are new to.
2. Take an Interest in Their Interests
Sometimes, simply talking to your child won’t do. In that case, express your interest in their interest to show them that you are willing to connect with them. If your child likes playing video games, then occasionally play along with them. If they love art and crafts, try painting with them or visit galleries.
You can even pick a new hobby or activity for you and your child to do together. With younger kids, you can paint together or sing together. You can even learn an instrument such as guitar or piano together by taking classes. South Shore Piano School has skilled teachers who give piano lessons to both children and adults.
You must be supportive and encouraging of their hobbies and keep an open mind. Your child might have a hobby you might disapprove of, but if it’s harmless, encourage them to explore instead of discouraging them and hurting their feelings.
Keep a Healthy Balance
If you want to grow closer to your children, it’s essential to maintain a healthy balance between being a parent to them and a friend to them. Carefully analyze each situation to conclude where to act as either one.
When you come across something they did that you disapprove of, instead of scolding them or turning your conversation into a stern lecture, hold a two-way conversation, understand why they did it, and let them know how it affects others. Doing this will increase your child’s trust in you. They will be more willing to confide in you and seek guidance from you in the future.
It’s also important to try to empathize with your child’s feelings during their outbursts of negative emotion. When your child is sad, upset, or angry, don’t dismiss them. Show them that you care. This will help your child deal with their emotions by resolving them and not suppressing them.
It’s also essential that during your child’s misconduct, you’re not too lax with them, as it might encourage inappropriate behavior. However, always try to teach and not punish. Harsh discipline might just make your child rebellious, won’t teach them positive behavior, and will significantly damage the parent-child relationship.
3. Create a Ritual With Them
Another thing you can do is create family rituals. Pick one day of the week, and do activities like watching a movie, playing board games, baking something together, or having pizza, etc., on that day every week. Since family rituals only occur on special days, your children will wait for them eagerly and create happy memories about them. These build bonds between family members and give your children a sense of security and belonging.
4. Show Affection
You mustn’t be stingy when showing affection to your children. Tell them that you love them and are proud of them often. Try to understand their love language: not every child is fond of hugging. However, positive physical touch, such as hugging, can be emotionally healing. It increases happiness hormones: dopamine and serotonin levels, which can calm you and your child down, reducing anxiety and depression. A parent’s gentle touch makes a child feel safe, secure, less alone, and loved.
5. Don’t Use Guilt
If you try to connect and bond with your children and it doesn’t work out right away, don’t try to make them feel bad about it. Guilt-tripping can lead to shame, anxiety, and low-self esteem in your child. Using guilt as a weapon will only increase the distance between you and your children and make them resent and avoid you in the long run.
Trying to understand your children and connect with them can be a challenging task. Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, you’ll feel like you have made no progress. However, you mustn’t give up. More often than not, your children are aware of your efforts and greatly appreciate them. Remember to use the techniques mentioned above and be patient.
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