What happens when we don't connect with our children on a regular basis? I have found that kids misbehave more often, they have lower self-esteem and tension builds up in the family. My personal symptom of being disconnected is there is less joy in my life. Here are five simple ways to connect. In fact, they are so simple that we may not realize the full impact they have on us and our children.
Touch frequently. Touching eases pain, lessens anxiety, softens the blows of life, generates hope and has the power to heal. Hold hands, give foot and back rubs, and snuggle.
Have your face light up when you see them. I have watched parents pick their children up from school while they were on their cell phone. What message does that give our children? Instead, stop whatever you are doing and greet them like you haven't seen them in a week. Note for parents of teens: They may outwardly show signs that they don't like this however, they secretly do.
Ask their advice about something you are personally dealing with, use their advice the best you can and then share the results with them. This makes your child's self-esteem sky-rocket.
At bed time, ask your child to rate you as a parent that day. Zero being the worst and 10 being the best. If it is less than 10, ask how you can improve. (For bravery points, do this exercise with your spouse too!)
Look intently into your child's eyes during your communications with them. Have you ever had a conversation with someone and they were looking at their phone, or at the person that just walked by? They seemed to be looking every where else but at you. How did that make you feel? Many parents are too busy to do this. Stayed eye contact communicates that your child (and your spouse) is important, that you respect and appreciate them. Most importantly eye contact communicates openness.
Parenting Practice: Choose one of these ways to connect that you do the least and practice it for this week. Make notes of the results you are getting in their cooperation and loving gestures. Please feel free to post your results on Facebook. Research says, writing your successes increases the odds that you will do that activity again. Plus, you will be helping others be more effective parents.