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How to Connect with Children

The skill of connection is a key foundational tool. It means letting children know that you are there for them and really care. Children feel connected to you when they feel listened to, taken seriously and are respectfully involved in problem solving in an age-appropriate manner, so they feel a sense of power over their lives. However, connection doesn’t mean pampering or giving in to unreasonable demands – children need to see that you maintain respect for yourself as well as them – the key is a sense of mutual respect.

So how do we create a sense of connection with our children? Here are some tips:

  1. Practise active listening. That means putting down whatever you’re doing and giving them your full attention. If it’s difficult to do at the time, it’s okay to say that you’re busy right now but will put aside some special time just for them as soon as you’re finished – then make sure you keep your word.

  1. Validate their feelings. Children feel connected when they feel understood. For example: “I can see that you’re feeling really frustrated right now…it can be hard to stop playing when you’re having such a good time, but it’s time for bed.”

  1. Respectfully share your feelings when it’s appropriate. Our children feel special when you respectfully and appropriately share something about yourself. For example, you could share about a time you went through a similar experience, and how it made you feel.

 

  1. Have a solution-oriented approach. Focus on solutions with children, after a cooling off period. Figuring out together, “What do you think we can do differently to make sure everyone gets up on time for school?” can help get buy-in from our children and helps them feel respected and part of the process.

  1. Take time for teaching. One important saying is “Connection before Correction”. This means that we connect with our children first, allow space and model how to deal with big emotions. Only when things are calmer are children more receptive to learning. That is when we can teach, by modeling or role-play, life skills such as showing respect to others, having healthy boundaries or how to be a good friend.

  1. Spend Special Time. Scheduling in regular special dedicated time for your children, like a weekly Movie Night or football game, gives the message that they are important and matter. And, most importantly, that you enjoy spending time with them!

At the end of the day, we all need to feel a sense of belonging, connection and love. What a gift to give our children!

Be well,

Paula

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