Parenting is the toughest yet most rewarding job there is! Any parent can tell you nothing compares to the feeling of having a little one who is a mini version of you. Yet again, no one will push all your buttons like your own child will. So in a nutshell, there is a lot of love that will occasionally be surrounded by lots of yelling, disciplining, scolding and correcting.
According to Psychology Today, researchers remind us that we need five positive interactions to every negative interaction to keep any relationship healthy, hence why its important to make sure we spend five times as much time in positive connection.
So given that parenting is the toughest job, the only way to keep a strong bond with our children is to build in daily habits of connection. Here are 10 routines that will easily strengthen the connection between you and your child:
1.Aim for 12 hugs (or physical connections) every day.
Snuggle your child first thing in the morning for a few minutes and last thing at night. Hug when you say goodbye, when you’re re-united, and often in between. Make eye contact and smile often. Tousle hair, pat backs, rub shoulders.
If your tween or teen rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realize that with older kids you have to ease into the connection. Get her settled with a cool drink and make small talk.
2.Turn off technology when you interact.
Your child will remember for the rest of her life that she was important enough to her parents that they turned off their phone to listen to her. Even turning off music in the car can be a powerful invitation to connect, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids and adults are more likely to open up and share.
Laughter and rough-housing keep you connected with your child by stimulating endorphins and oxytocin in both of you. Making laughter a daily habit also gives your child a chance to laugh out the anxieties and upsets that otherwise make him feel disconnected and more likely to act out.
4.Make time for one-on-one time.
Do whatever you need to do to schedule 15 minutes with each child, separately, every day. Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want during that time. On her days, just pour your love into her and let her direct. On your days resist the urge to structure the time with activities. Instead, try any physical activity or game that gets her laughing.
Your child needs to express his emotions or they’ll drive his behavior. Besides, this is an opportunity to help your child heal those upsets, which will bring you closer. So summon up your compassion, don’t let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger. Remember that you’re the one he trusts enough to cry with, and breathe your way through it. Just acknowledge all those feelings and offer understanding of the pain.
6.Listen, and Empathize.
The habit of seeing things from your child’s perspective will ensure that you treat her with respect and look for win/win solutions. It will help you see the reasons for behavior that would otherwise drive you crazy. And it will help you regulate your own emotions so when your buttons get pushed and you find yourself in “fight or flight,” your child doesn’t look so much like the enemy.
7.Bedtime snuggle and chat.
Set your child’s bedtime a little earlier with the assumption that you’ll spend some time visiting and snuggling in the dark. Those companionable, safe moments of connection invite whatever your child is currently grappling with to the surface, whether it’s something that happened at school, the way you snapped at her this morning, or her worries about tomorrow’s field trip. Do you have to resolve her problem right then? No. Just listen. Acknowledge feelings. Reassure your child that you hear her concern, and that you’ll solve it together tomorrow. The next day, be sure to follow up. You’ll be amazed how your relationship with your child deepens. And don’t give this habit up as your child gets older. Late at night is often the only time teens will open up.
When you’re interacting with your child, show up 100 percent. Just be right here, right now, and let everything else go. You won’t be able pull this off all the time. But if you make it a habit several times a day, you’ll find yourself shifting into presence more and more often, because you’ll find it creates those moments with your child that make your heart melt.
9.Slow down and savor the moment.
You aren’t just rushing your child through the schedule so you can spend a few minutes with him before bed. Every interaction all day long is an opportunity to connect. Slow down and share the moment: Let him smell the strawberries before you put them in the smoothie. When you’re helping him wash his hands, put yours in the running water with his, and share the cool rush of the water.