We spend a good amount of time preparing for the arrival of a new baby.
We read about early bonding, babywearing and even cosleeping to help us connect with our new baby.
As our little ones enter toddlerhood, they run off, but they also run back for reassuring hugs.
It feels as if our presence is enough to connect with them.
Once they enter preschool and the schooling years, when sports and activities pop up, we might find ourselves not quite as close as we had planned.
Sure, we love and chat, but that close connection sometimes feels distant when compared to the early years.
Like all relationships, the parent-child one needs intentional acts of connection. Sometimes big gestures, but often connection is found in simple, everyday interactions.
Here are 7 ways to connect with your kids:
#1: Share A Morning Moment
The morning rush can be a bit crazy in many homes. Getting to work and school, and trying to coordinate afternoon schedules can be quite chaotic.
If you have the time, it’s certainly wonderful to sit and have a full breakfast, chat and connect.
For those with busy mornings, you can still connect. Even sitting briefly as they pour their cereal or setting your alarm a few minutes earlier so you can wake them with morning cuddles can mean starting the day off more connected.
Letting your kids know they’re important to you from the moment they wake up can help them feel secure as they go through their day.
#2: Leave Notes For One Another
Nothing beats face to face connection. However, for the times you aren’t together, a simple note can remind your children they’re on your mind.
Tucking a note into their lunchbox or gym bag is a small way to add a little more connection.
Some families get interactive and leave notes on marker boards so they can write back and forth.
There’s always text messaging if your children are older, but there’s still something special about hand written notes!
#3: Create Together
Building a Lego house, painting, or decorating a cake can mean working together, creating and finding time to have more conversation.
There’s something about creating together that builds a feeling of team work and connection.
#4: Take A Walk Together
One thing much of our population can do is get a bit more active. Many of us spend hours at desks just like our kids do at school.
Taking time to go on an evening walk together is a great way to get more active while also connecting with your child.
If your child is younger, use the time to play I Spy or have a nature scavenger hunt. Kids learn through play, and they build connections when people enter their world of play.
For older children, simply taking the time to be together can foster connection. You won’t always have deep meaningful conversations.
It may not always seem like a big deal, but quality time can’t happen without quantity, because with children, you never know when quality time will strike.
#5: Have A Family Game Night Or Sport Day
Playing games together is a great way to have fun with your children while also building a connection. Team style games and sports help you to work together.
It’s also easier for your children to be open when they have fun with you. Sure, it’s wonderful to take them to the park and watch them play, they’ll have a lot of fun. But there’s a deeper level of connection when you get on the field and kick a ball with them or when you dance around during charades.
Of course, you might learn a few games to avoid if any bring out too much competition and hurt feelings. Family game nights can be challenging for some, but find activities that you can all really have fun with!
#6: Do Everyday Chores And Errands Together
If you’re working, or you have more than one child, and your calendar always seems full, carving out a parent-child date night may not happen as often as you’d like. It’s certainly a great way to connect, but when it comes to kids, having enough time can be a challenge.
If you’re running to the store, make it fun and pick a treat. Don’t make it so a child expects a treat each time, but turning an everyday errand into a special trip can do a lot for some extra connection.
Having a child help you fold laundry or prep a meal can be a great time to start conversations. Often you just need to be a willing ear for a child to tell you what their latest interests are.
#7: Physical Touch – It’s Important
When our children are babies, physical touch is almost a constant. It’s as much of a need for them as oxygen. As they get older, their need for physical closeness isn’t quite so high.
However, that need isn’t nonexistent. As they get older, they may seek it out less from you. They may not jump into your lap often or grab your hand. But they may still need plenty of physical touch.
Certainly every individual is unique, and the desire for touch varies. But you can make it a point to ask if they’d like a hug, if they want to sit on your lap or if you can give them a back scratch.
And if bedtime is crazy, as it can be for many households with young children, sometimes a back rub can be just what child and parent need to settle and connect. Sometimes a rowdy child just needs a bit of connection.
We pour so much into our new babies that it feels as if that connection should last a lifetime. And while the connection we make in early infancy is vital and permanent in some ways, we need to continue to foster attachment to keep a healthy connection with our children. Being intentional about connecting with our children can help us continue to reap the benefits of our early attachments.