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Understanding Children's Needs: Part 3 - The Importance of Connection

Hello there, fellow parents! It's hard to believe we've reached the final chapter of our exploration into the essential elements children need to thrive. We've journeyed through autonomy, structure, and now, we're arriving at our destination: connection. (Want to go back and find the other articles? They're here, and here. )

house being built with strong foundations

Picture this: before we can guide or teach our children, we must first establish a strong bond with them. It's like laying the foundation for a sturdy house—it provides stability and support for everything else to come.

Connection isn't just about being physically present; it's about truly engaging with our children on a deeper level. It's about understanding their unique personalities, interests, and emotions, and letting them know that they are valued and loved unconditionally.

But in a world filled with distractions and busyness, nurturing this connection can sometimes feel like a daunting task. So, how can we cultivate meaningful connections with our children in our day-to-day lives? Here are some practical tips:

  • Quality time: Dedicate uninterrupted time to spend with each child individually. It doesn't have to be anything elaborate—simple activities like baking together or taking a walk can create opportunities for bonding and conversation. If they're little, then 5 minutes daily is good - it doesn't have to be long. If they're older, they might prefer to have 30 minutes, or an hour, once a week, instead. The important thing is that this is their time, alone with one adult, and that they choose how the time is spent.

  • Active listening: Practice active listening when your child speaks. Maintain eye contact, nod in understanding, and validate their feelings. This shows them that you value their thoughts and emotions and strengthens your connection. Then repeat back something they've said, or ask them a question about it.

  • Shared experiences: Find activities that you and your child enjoy and engage in them together regularly. Whether it's playing board games, doing puzzles, or working on a craft project, shared experiences create lasting memories and strengthen your bond. Take time to talk too about things you liked as a child - or stories of things that happened to you, so that you build a connection.

  • Affection: Don't underestimate the power of physical affection. Hugs, kisses, and cuddles communicate love and security and reinforce the connection between you and your child. If you are the parent of a teen, this might be more difficult (says the mum of two teens!). Family film nights can be an opportunity to cosy-up together on the sofa, a hand on their shoulder as you say good morning, look for opportunities.

  • Gratitude: Take time each day to express gratitude for your child and the moments you share together. A simple "thank you" or "I appreciate you" can go a long way in strengthening your relationship. Spend time together at the end of the day remembering the different things that happened, and talk them back over together.

  • Connection before correction. When your child gets things wrong - shouts, hits, says something unkind (and yes, they do, we all do) then first pause. Take a breath and then connect with your child. Use non verbal communication if you think your words might come out angrily. Once you have connected with them as another human being, then you can turn to look at the problem that needs fixing, together.

parent giving a child a 'piggy-back'

As we conclude our journey, let's remember that it's the connections we cultivate with our children that lay the groundwork for their emotional well-being and success in life.

Thank you for joining me on this exploration. Here's to fostering deep and meaningful connections with our children, one day at a time.

PS - If these blog posts have brought up more questions than given you answers, you might want to book in a chat. As a parenting coach, I'm here to help you strengthen your relationship and fix the bumps in the road.

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