As parents, we love our children. But sometimes, it feels like they are strangers. Where is the closeness we imagined when we were expecting them? How do you develop a closer bond? While every family is different, there are many things you can do to build that connection you crave, a connection that will last through the years and into their adulthood.In no order in particular, here are some ideas to try. It’s possible more than one will work for you - and that’s great! It’s also possible that one suggestion will bounce another idea in your mind that isn’t mentioned. That’s great, too. This isn’t a list of every possibility, just a few for you to consider.
Build Bonds Through Shared Activities
Spending quality time together doing an activity that you both enjoy helps to connect “happy” and “together.” Toss aside the thought of perfection, though. The goal isn’t perfection or production, but enjoyment. As they say, “The journey, not the destination, is the goal.” Have fun with it! There are countless possible activities, but just to get you started: Go for a walk - walking seems to be a great conversational time, too!
Enjoy nature. What fascinating things are outside near you? Listen to music
Create music - sing or play an instrument
Play a board game Play a video game
Toss a frisbee or a ball
Read aloud together
Crafting - draw, paint, make something with polymer clay, sew, make things out of junk, the sky’s the limit!
It’s also helpful to participate in their interests. Sometimes it might be something passive, like showing up at a meet or a practice for sports. Other times, it involves a whole learning curve. Feel free to ask them questions about their current interest. Don’t be surprised if you get a detailed and passionate response. If so - that’s great! You will be sure it truly is something they are into.
Bonding through Rituals and Traditions
I once read a comic that said, “My family doesn’t have any traditions. We just do the same thing every year.” Those traditions become a shared history, and a shared future. Rituals are more than just something you do. They connect. When my child was young, we had a bedtime ritual that included reading a story, and later, a chapter in a book. We continued this ritual well past the age she could read. It was a calm, pleasant time of bonding. We could talk about the story, anticipate what might happen next, or just switch back and forth reading portions of the book. Traditions can be tied to a holiday, a day of the week (pizza night, anyone?) or even just a random occasion. Imagine a special meal created just because, on a random day - wouldn’t that become a cherished memory?
Bonds of Affection
Expressing love and affection is a cornerstone of building a strong bond with your child. The simple phrase "I love you" holds immense power in reminding them of their inherent worth and significance in your life. Hearing these words consistently and with meaning provides a foundation of security that equips children to face the challenges of the world with resilience and confidence.
While praise is a valuable tool in reinforcing positive behavior, it's crucial to make it specific and genuine. Children, much like adults, can discern the authenticity of praise. Hollow or insincere compliments can erode the trust and connection you're trying to build. Your child needs to know that your words are a reliable source of affirmation and encouragement.
Setting boundaries is a natural part of parenting, and it's essential to approach it with a calm and clear demeanor. When establishing limits, communicate them in a way that your child can understand, taking the time to explain the reasons behind the boundaries. This not only helps them comprehend the rules but also fosters a sense of cooperation and understanding. By involving them in the reasoning behind the limits, you empower your child to remember and follow them more effectively.
The expressions of love, genuine praise, and clear boundaries create a balanced and nurturing environment for your child's growth. It's a delicate dance of affection, positive reinforcement, and guidance that contributes to a secure and trusting relationship, forming the bedrock of a healthy parent-child bond.
Find the Fun
Life isn’t all fun and games, of course. There are tasks that need to be tackled, and sometimes it may seem tedious. However, navigating through these responsibilities with your child can be an opportunity to infuse a sense of fun and creativity into the routine.
Take something as mundane as folding laundry, for example. Instead of viewing it as a chore, turn it into a lively shirt folding contest. Transforming the task into a friendly competition can make it engaging and entertaining for both you and your child. Who can conquer their stack of laundry first? It's not just about getting the job done; it's about injecting an element of playfulness into the process.
As you fold shirts side by side, you create a shared experience that transcends the mundane nature of the activity. Laughter, friendly banter, and perhaps a bit of healthy competition can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. This simple shift in perspective not only makes the task more enjoyable but also strengthens the bond between you and your child.
Finding the fun in everyday activities teaches your child to approach challenges with creativity and a positive mindset. It fosters a sense of resilience and resourcefulness as they learn to turn mundane tasks into opportunities for joy and connection. So, whether it's a shirt folding contest or another creative twist on a daily task, infusing a spirit of fun into the routine can make the ordinary moments extraordinary.
Of course, we wouldn’t be HOLD if we didn’t mention the importance of active listening in creating and strengthening your bonds with your child. Active listening creates an environment for them to feel comfortable openly sharing thoughts, feelings, and events of the day with you. It aids in opening, and keeping open, the lines of communication. Above all, be sure to listen. If you want to learn how to be a better active listener, sign up for Listen Your Way to Deeper Connections, and learn the skills you need to create lasting bonds with your family.