How to Connect with Your Kids
Ever wish you had an owner’s manual for your kids? You look at that little person standing in front of you and think, “Where in the world did you come from?”
Maybe your kid has such different interests from you that you don’t know how you can ever establish a close bond. It feels like you have nothing in common.
Because I understand that sentiment all too well, I’ve written a guide to connecting with your kids, each in their own special way.
This post contains 4 ideas on how you can connect with your kids, even if you feel like you’re as different as night and day.
1. Study your child like you’re studying for a college exam.
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It’s surprising what you can learn about a person by just sitting back and observing them. This concept even applies to the people you seemingly know the best, like your children or your significant other. So, I challenge you to learn as much as you can about each of your children. Here are some questions you can ponder as you study them.
- Which activities inspire and energize my child?
- Which activities drain my child or make them shut down?
- What subjects does my child show the most interest in?
- What is my child’s primary love language? (There are 5: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. Link to 5 Love Languages of Children by Dr. Gary Chapman- highly recommended reading!)
Once you’ve collected this information about your child, you’re going to use it to establish a connection with them, as you’ll see in the next step.
2. Find an entry level activity to enjoy together.
What activity makes your child tick? Does he enjoy collecting and playing with Star Wars figurines? Does she enjoy dressing up in different costumes throughout the day? Reading graphic novels? Baking cookies in the kitchen?
Whatever activity brings your child joy is an activity you can express interest in, even if it’s just for a few minutes at a time. Watch how your child lights up when you engage in something that’s meaningful to him. It doesn’t need to take hours at a time to connect with your child. Just spend ten minutes or so actively engaged (the key word is “actively”) in the hobby of your child’s choice and you are both sure to feel more connected to each other.
3. Make a “date” and keep it.
Here’s a way to create excitement in your relationship with your child: create a “date” for sometime in the future and follow through. Since young children don’t have an accurate concept of time, you probably want to make the date only a day or so from when you tell them about it. Otherwise, you might lose some of the momentum or your child might feel like a date one week from now might as well be forever!
One of my favorite ways to connect with my 5 year-old daughter is by having movie dates with her. I’ll tell her we’re going to watch a certain movie together, and we’ll decide on the food we want to eat while we’re watching (usually popcorn and cookies). In fact, she and I have a movie date to look forward to later on today! (In case you’re wondering which movie we’ll be watching, it’s Home Alone 2. She’s very excited to watch the whole thing.)
4. Spend time with your child often.
Obviously, making a connection with your child is not a one-and-done event. In order to establish a strong, lasting bond, you need to spend time with her often. Even if you have a busy week, I challenge you to pencil in two times in the coming week dedicated to spending time with each child, even if it’s just for 10 minutes each. Write it down or put it in your digital calendar as you would any other commitment and show up!
Show your kids that you care about what they care about and watch your relationship blossom before your eyes.
Children crave quality time with their parents and even need it to grow into healthy adults. I hope this post encourages you to find simple ways to connect with your children, even if you feel like you don’t have much in common.
Which one of these ideas will you try this coming week?