If you’re a regular reader of One Perfect Day, you’ll know that I’m passionate about building strong, positive and nurturing relationships with our kids. Here’s a list of ways to build a more connected relationship with your child. Some of these are very simple ideas, but it’s those little things that can make all the difference.
Acceptance - let your children be themselves. Accept them for who they are – it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.
Be Brave – trust your instincts. There is so much parenting information out there, sometimes it feels like we are doing it all wrong. Believe in yourself — you know your child better than anyone and you know what works for you and your family.
Be in the moment – Put down the phone, shut down the laptop, and be fully present, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day.
Just Breathe – take a time out, and I don’t mean your kids, I mean you! When things are starting to get a little crazy, take a few minutes to just breathe, refocus and keep calm.
Cuddles – never underestimate the power of cuddles! Let your child know exactly how much you love to cuddle them. Tell them, “Your cuddles make the whole day better!” and “Your cuddles make me smile” or “You give the BEST cuddles!” Try it, and watch your child’s face light up.
Confidence - let your children know that you believe in them. Be their greatest advocate and watch their confidence soar.
Dance - turn up some music and have an impromptu dance party in the living room. Jump around and get silly. Instant smiles! This works even on the worst days — in fact it is guaranteed to work on bad days.
Empathy – When we do our best to see a situation from our children’s point of view, instead of just our own, things are much easier to resolve. Frustration is eliminated (both ours and our child’s) and our children are calmer because they feel heard and understood.
Look them in the eyes – yes, it can be that simple. Whenever they enter the room, stop what you’re doing, look them in the eyes, and smile (and get ready to see their face light up).
Encouragement – be a positive voice for your child. Be their greatest champion. Compliment them. Say something wonderful about them to your friends or another grown-up while in ear-shot of your child. They will love it.
Family traditions – make your own family traditions. They are the foundation of family bonds, and you are building special childhood memories for your kids. It can something as fun and crazy as popcorn for dinner on Friday nights or meaningful and heartfelt like special Advent traditions.
Gratitude - each day, think of at least one reason you are grateful for your children and then tell them. Start a gratitude jar. Each day write down one small thing for which you are grateful and then pop the piece of paper into the jar. At the end of the year, gather together with your children and read all of your gratitude notes.
Humour - keeping things light during stressful days can mean all the difference between a complete meltdown and turning things right around. Try to find the silly side of situations and have a laugh.
Be Interested - show a genuine interest in your child — their hobbies, their interests, the things they like to do. If it matters to them, let them know it matters to you as well.
Jokes – have some kid friendly jokes up your sleeve and pull them out during car trips, at the dinner table or during stressful days. You could even write them down and pop little notes in with their lunch boxes. Need some inspiration? Childhood Beckons has 30 child friendly jokes to get you started — gauranteed giggles! Nurturestore also has a free printable of 24 Christmas jokes for kids. Pin it now for next Christmas and add the jokes to your Advent calendar.
Kindness - This one’s kind of obvious, isn’t it? Be kind to your children. Model kindness. Teach them how to be kind. Creative with Kids has a list of 100 Ways to be Kind to Your Child and Awesomely Awake has a lovely post on 6 ways to teach your children how to be kind.
Listen - listen to your children, whenever they have something to tell you, no matter what. You will be letting them know they are important and valued. You will also learn about who they are and what really matters to them.
Memories – building a strong and connected relationship with your child is all about creating wonderful childhood memories.
Mindful parenting – listening, accepting, being present. Everything on this ABC’s list is an example of mindful parenting, and it’s a path to a connected relationship with your child.
Nurture – nurture not only your children, but yourself as well! When things aren’t going smoothly, when our kids are acting out and our patience is wearing thin, look inward. Spend some time reflecting on what is causing you stress, and then take steps to deal with those things in your life that are stopping you from feeling calm and connected. Be kind to yourself. This will ensure that fatigue and anxiety does not spill over to your parenting.
Outside – spend some time outside every day, no matter what the weather. I’m not naturally an outdoorsy type of person, but whenever we are having a bad day my first solution is to head outside and it works every time. It can restore balance and peace to an otherwise stressful day. Sometimes a walk in the garden is all it takes. Raining outside? Splash in some puddles! Middle of winter? There are some great reasons to play outside even in winter — check out this post from My Nearest and Dearest. Need some inspiration for creating family memories outdoors? Connecting Family and Seoul has lots of ideas.
Play – the power of play cannot be underestimated. Even 10 minutes a day playing with your kids can make all the difference. We often like to begin the day with play. It can set the tone for the whole day.
Patience – One of my favourite quotes is a Swedish proverb: “Love me when I least deserve it, for that is when I need it most.” Parenting is a tough gig, and our patience is tested many, many times a day. If we can try to remember that difficult behavior from our kids is the expression of a deeper need, and if we try to react with empathy and love, we will be building the foundations of a connected relationship with our children.
Questions - ask your children questions. Show them you are interested. Be fully present for them when they ask you a question. Stop what you’re doing, give them your undivided attention and answer them, no matter how many times they ask the same thing, or how trivial the question might seem.
Read – reading with your kids has so many benefits. Apart from the obvious benefits of enhancing literacy skills, time spent together reading is a wonderful opportunity to slow down and spend one on one time with your child.
Snuggles – snuggle under a blanket and watch a movie together. Let your child choose the movie.
Time – their is no greater gift you can give your child than your time.
Understanding - being understanding will reduce conflict and tantrums. When they are shown understanding, our children will feel heard, validated and accepted.
Value them - show your children you value them by getting them involved in simple family decisions. Ask them their opinions. Value their input.
Validate their feelings - when your child is crying or frustrated and on the verge of a tantrum, simply make a statement which acknowledes and validates their feelings. Simply saying, “You feel frustrated” or “You are sad because …” can turn a situation around in an instant.
Waiting – when you ask your child a question, wait for them to respond. Especially when they are very young, give them time to first process what you have asked them, and second what it is they want to say, before you interrupt them and ask them again or guess at what they are trying to say and answer for them. Sometimes it seems as though they are not listening, but they are, they just need time to formulate what they want to say. This can sometimes take minutes, which can feel like forever, but if you wait patiently, and let them answer in their own time, you will be instilling them with so much confidence and self-worth.
xox0x – lots of kisses and hugs!
Experiences – try something new with your kids. Need some inspiration? Danielle at 52 Brand New writes about trying a new experience with her children every week — 52 new experiences each year. How brilliant is that?
Yes – sometimes we fall into patterns of saying no, or “later” or “in a minute.” Try saying yes a little more. Yes, we can read that book right now. Yes, we can go to the park this afternoon. Yes, you matter to me.
Zen – find your parenting zen. Yes, it is possible! Be forgiving of yourself when things aren’t going smoothly, and remember, you don’t have to be perfect. Your children love you for just being you!