One of the most important skills to learn as a parent is how to connect with your kids. It is something that can seem quite easy when they are young but then can become a little more challenging as they grow into their teenage years.
I try to be aware throughout the day about how I am or I am not connecting to my kids, my wife, and even with myself. I have noticed that when I am connected with all three of those joy, patience, kindness, etc. are so much more accessible.
I have also noticed that the reciprocal is true when there is a lack of connection. On those days I feel more easily annoyed and irritated by anything that is a disruption to my agenda. This is why I make it a priority to start and end each day with some real intentional connection.
Dr. Becky Bailey encourages in these times of connecting to include four elements that will exponentially increase what she calls joy juice in my brain.
These four things are:
I think of this time with my kids as depositing money in our relational bank. My goal is to start the day in the black (meaning our relational bank has money in the account) with them and end the day in the black. It is through these moments of intentional connection that I believe I am able to really see the heart of my child and they are able to see mine.
This kind of connection will lead to cooperation. Throughout the day if I am interacting with my kids and I notice that cooperation is a struggle then I want to pause for a moment and reflect on our connection that day.
If we haven’t connected well, then I will notice a destructive pattern begin to form. It will seem that cooperating with almost anything I say will be difficult.
I will begin to notice resistance over and over again. This will then cause me to be less patient and more frustrated. Now my angry words and actions will begin to deteriorate the little connection we had and then we are stuck in an endless loop of pushing and resisting.
The antidote to this every time is connection. If I can just pause for a moment, take a deep breathe, and invite my child into a moment of connection, then I will see something shift with us. It is in these little moments that my perspective will shift to what is really important in the moment and it is not the task that I thought was so vitally important a few minutes prior.
When we connect I am reminded of how precious our connection is to both of us. This is the gift of truly knowing my child and them truly knowing me.
Finding ways to connect with the kids can be challenging. My wife and I use a lot of different techniques to connect with them throughout the day.
We believe it is vital for us and for them. It remind us to stay centered in a place of gratitude throughout our busy and rushed days. We definitely utilize a lot of hugs and kisses.
They love them and so do we. We intentionally work hard at being present with them. This of course is a difficult task when technology, work, and other things pull at our attention.
However, we both believe that being present with our kids is the place that we can really grasp the joy of parenting.
When we are present with the kids they feel more valued and loved. This is no different than how I feel when my wife is present with me. Another aspect we intentionally include daily is times of playfulness.
My wife and I both do play therapy with kids so we know how important play is to a child. We know that play is how a child communicates so many things to us. We make it a priority to carve times to play cars, dolls, board games, etc.
I am always surprised how at first I am reluctant to engage in these activities because my brain tells me there is something that needs to be done that is more important. However, once I have embraced the play and jumped into it with my kids I can feel something shift in my heart towards them.
I can see the utter joy on their face that I took the time to participate in this sacred act of play with them. These moments of connection are the foundation I am going to build everything else I want to teach my children, and it is because of these moments I believe they will care and listen to what I want to teach them.