“I can’t believe how things with my daughter have turned around since I started focusing on connection.” — Zoe
We all crave those close moments with our children that melt our hearts. Connection is as essential to us as it is to our children. When our relationship is strong, it’s also sweet, so we receive as much as we give. That’s what makes parenting worth all the sacrifices.
That connection is also the only reason children willingly follow our rules. Kids who feel strongly connected to their parents want to cooperate, if they can. They’ll still act like kids, which means their emotions will sometimes overwhelm their still-growing prefrontal cortex. But when they trust us to understand and to be on their side, they’re motivated to follow our lead.
Researchers remind us that we need five positive interactions to each negative interaction to keep a relationship healthy. And since we spend so much time guiding — a.k.a. correcting, reminding, scolding, criticizing, nagging, and yelling — it’s important to make sure that we spend five times as much time in positive connection.
But we’re only human. There are days when all we can do is meet our children’s most basic needs. Some days it’s nothing short of heroic simply to feed them, bathe them, keep an encouraging tone, and get them to sleep at a reasonable hour — just so we can do it all over again tomorrow.
So given that parenting is the toughest job we have — and that we often do it in our spare time, after being separated all day — the only way to keep a strong bond with our children is to build in daily habits of connection. Here are 10 that don’t add time to your day, but do add connection — and could change your life.
1. Aim for 12 hugs (or physical connections) every day.
As family therapist Virginia Satir famously said, “We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”
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. Tousle hair, pat backs, rub shoulders. Make eye contact and smile, which is a different kind of touch. 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 chat as you give a foot rub. (Seem like going above and beyond? It’s a foolproof way to hear what happened in her life today. You’ll find yourself glad, many times, if you prioritize that.)
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. And play helps kids want to cooperate. Which is likely to work better?: “Come eat your breakfast now!” or “Little Gorilla, it’s time for breakfast — Look, you have bugs and bananas on your oatmeal!”
Click Here to Read Full Article