Connections are crucial. They are a powerful practice for raising healthy, capable, successful children. Connecting with adults who love them changes how a child’s brain is wired as he or she grows up. How we treat our children changes who they are and how they develop. The game of ‘peek-a-boo’ you just played with your infant built new neural connections. The way you listened to your daughter when she came in crying about how her best friend wouldn’t play with her changes the way she can respond to others. The deep breath you took when your teen pushed all your buttons allowed his brain a moment to practice regulating his own emotions. Parent-child connectedness is the ‘super protective factor’ against adverse outcomes during the teen years.
Mary Pipher writes that the connections that adults remember from their childhood are an important source of strength over a lifetime. Here are more ideas:
- Have regular meals together (with no media or technology in the background). If this new to you, it can feel awkward. Bring curiosity to the table with you. Check out the Melissa and Doug Family Dinner Box of Questions or Chat Pack for Kids.
- Take advantage of tuck in time in the evening. Share one thing that you felt good about in the day and one mistake you learned from. Ask your child to do the same.
- Give compliments to each other.
- Spend time outside together.
- Share some of your passions with your child (cooking, knitting, working on cars, art, gardening etc.)
- Let them share their passions with you even if it isn’t something you really enjoy. You can sit and learn about video games.
- Read together, play together and listen, listen, listen.