Connecting with your children is an important part of being a good parent but it is not always easy. Start connecting as soon as your children are born. Try different strategies to connect with them as they grow. When they are tweens and teens, you may get frustrated but don’t give up. Try these 7 great ways to connect with your children. Just remember that your hard work will lead to a deep relationship with your children.
Model the behavior you want to see from your children. Open up and share. Talk about yourself. Share stories, memories, feelings, thoughts, and dreams. Let them know how you view the world and how you relate to others. This allows them to see you as more than just their parent.
You are a person with thoughts and feelings. This shows them how to share while creating a comfortable sharing environment. The more you share with them, the more they will share with you.
Listen to Them
If you want your children to share, you must be a good listener. This means actively listening. Stop what you are doing, put away distractions and focus on the words your child is saying. Watch their expressions and body language. Read into their feelings. Make eye contact, nod your head, and show them that you are listening. Get them to expand and explore. Ask probing questions like “how did that make you feel?” or “what led you to that decision?” Avoid interrupting, making judgments, or turning the conversation back to you. When it is their time to share, be there as a listener.
Schedule Connection Time
Connecting with your kids takes time and repetition. You must schedule it. On a regular basis, set aside time to spend with your children. Game night, evening walks, or craft hour are great activities for special time with your kids. Avoid TV, movies, and other activities that do not require interaction. During this time, you should talk to and look at each other. You do not need to plan an activity every time. You may just end up talking. Spending time with them allows for connection. If you schedule it, it will happen.
Learn About Them
Show an interest in their interests. Find out about their hobbies, friends, and favorite things. Learn about their culture. Keep in mind that you are a visitor in their culture. In other words, you will not like everything they like and you may think differently. Do not pretend to be exactly like them. You aren’t. But, you don’t want to be judgmental either. You need to show acceptance in order to connect. If you are willing to learn, they will teach.
Be Their Parent
Sometimes it may feel like you are trying to be their friend while at other times you are trying to be their parent. This is quite a confusing juggling act. And if it is confusing to you, just imagine how confusing it is to your children. So, let’s simplify. You are not their friend, you are their parent. You do not need to be their friend in order to connect. In fact, you will be respected more if you make it clear that you are their parent. A friendly parent. You will have fun, share, and listen…BUT, you still enforce the house rules. You are the decision-maker. Your word is gospel. Clarifying your role as a parent makes it easier to connect with your children.
Build Mutual Respect
Your children need to learn to respect you as their parent and as an authority. Communicating rules, explaining consequences of breaking those rules, and enforcing those rules are three steps to gain your children’s respect. Also, avoid giving them everything that they want. This does not lead to respect. It has the opposite effect and leads to spoiled, ungrateful children. Don’t forget that respect is a two-way street. You also need to learn to respect your children as individuals. Provide them freedom to grow and make mistakes. Keep your promises. And prioritize them.
Connect with Yourself
Improve your skill of connecting by practicing on yourself. Find alone time to regroup and de-stress. Think about yourself and all the reasons that you would want to connect with you. What do you want to learn about you? What are your thoughts on life and current events? What are some of your favorite memories and activities that you want to share with you? Focus on the all the factors that make you a great person to connect with. Enjoy yourself and others will too…especially your children.