5 Ways to Emotionally Connect with your Child

Children are incredibly adaptable and almost intrinsically empathetic. They don’t care
what you guys end up doing because what they crave most is connection.

As a parent, your days are filled with chaos of endless responsibilities and this mundane routine may leave you feeling empty and burnt out all at the same time. It is in these moments that it may feel so difficult to feel connected to our children!

We are trying so hard to take care of their physical needs that we can forget that they are also little people with big emotions.

As difficult as it may seem, being emotionally connected to our kids is an important need to be met in order for them to feel secure and emotionally regulated. Little people have bad
days too and as humans we are all hardwired for connection to get through life. Here are some simple ways you can find moments during your day to connect with your children consistently that can help foster their emotional development and mental health wellness.

1) Ask them open-ended questions, and listen!

With a chatty toddler or small child, it can be overstimulating to always stay present in
conversations. Just like us, they need to feel valued, validated, and heard. You can start
out the day by asking them what they dreamt about- you’ll be surprised with what they
experience in their slumber! It is an easy way to connect first thing in the morning. Make
an effort and a habit- to ask them questions throughout the day while you’re driving them
to school or preparing dinner. Ask them about their day, their feelings, and opinions.
‘Would you rather’ questions are a fun and silly way to get them to reflect and verbalize
their preferences and share how they feel. When they speak and share, make eye contact
and don’t interrupt. Not only will this help them feel validated and emotionally secure but
it will showcase to them how to be good listeners as well!

2) Put away the screens and be present!

Yes, no iphone for you and no ipad for your kid!
While screen time is a necessity sometimes that can certainly provide them with learning
opportunities (as well as a well needed break for parents) – relying on them too much will
get in the way of any real connection. Put the screens away- kids learn by example. Less
screen time means more opportunities for you to connect with your child creatively and
authentically. We need to be able to allow ourselves the ability to bond with our children
without a movie in the background or an ipad game in hand.

3) Prioritize one on one time!

Family time is important, but so is having intimate one on one time with each parent. For example, Mommy daughter dates to the mall or Daddy daughter dates to the park are great ways for your child to build an individual relationship with each parent. Parents with multiple children may find this tricky, but it is critical for each child to have one on one time so they can feel valued and prioritized. This time can be used to have fun, talk, share, and reflect together. Bonds only form through intentional and mindful interactions.

4) Model your own emotions authentically as a way to teach them how to name, express, and process their own feelings.

It is tough for parents to always feel like we have to stay strong and keep it together for the sake of the kids. But the best thing you can give them is honesty by being authentic about how you feel. If you aren’t feeling great one day, let them know. They will surprise you with their empathy and understanding. If you aren’t in the mood to have an activity filled day, express that to them and offer alternatives.
Children are incredibly adaptable and almost intrinsically empathetic. They don’t care
what you guys end up doing because what they crave most is connection. This is
something that can be easily accomplished by quiet crafts at home, cozy cuddles with
some books, baking together, and so much more! Sharing your feelings with them from
time to time will help build trust and make them feel included.

5) You don’t need to spend money to connect!

Get them involved and collaborate ideas! It can be hard entertaining kids on a budget, but understand that more than anything- children crave your undivided time and attention. Spending money is the easier alternative, trust me. But it takes a little more effort to come up with ways to spend quality time with your child. More than anything, kids love sharing their own ideas and input because that helps them feel like their opinions are valued. Ask them what they’d like to do to keep them engaged in coming up with ideas! It will be surprising to you the simple things they often want to do.

How do you know if your child is emotionally connected? When they are, they are able to:
-self regulate emotions
-make their own decisions
-embody confidence
-practice empathy towards others
-have a positive attitude

Here’s a list of questions to ask your children to help them feel valued and provide opportunities for connection:
-How was your day?
-How did that make you feel?
-What did you learn today?
-What made you smile today?
-How are you feeling?
-What do you feel like doing today?
-What’s a memory that makes you happy

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