During this time of ‘stay home, stay healthy,’ many of us are spending lots of time at home with our families and loved ones. But with all this togetherness, are we actually feeling more connected to one another?
How do we grow a sense of connection and why is it important?
We learn who we are in the context of our connections to other people. Connections change the way our brain grows neurons which, in turn, influences the way we interpret and respond to the world around us. Families are our first relationships. Building that sense of connection in your family can be difficult – particularly in the current climate of stress and uncertainty. Taking time to improve your connection with your children is the most important way to foster resilience in them for the rest of their lives.
The resources and activities below will help you build connections within your family. The bright side of this current situation is that with a few helpful tools, we can become more connected to one another which will help us all to be more resilient in the long term.
Family Meetings are a good way to connect as a family. Learn more about Family Meetings here.
Children learn best when they feel connected. I love you, AND the answer is, “No,” Positive Discipline
Connection Before Correction, Positive Discipline
Help your child develop a vocabulary to describe their feelings. Feelings, the First Foreign Language I Learned as a Parent, Sproutable
Connection and supportive relationships is the most important factor in building resilience in children. Key Concepts: Resilience, Harvard Center for the Developing Child
Practice compliments to build connection. Compliments: Positive Discipline Family Meetings, video from Sound Discipline
Parents, know that it doesn’t have to be a “perfect” day to be a good day. By aiming for one connection activity each day, memories and relationships are strengthened. Let your child choose an activity they would like to try.
Build a fort
My kids went through an indoor fort building phase when they were in early elementary school, using sheets, blankets and sleeping bags to create forts and ‘underground cities.’ Flashlights were used in the dark recesses of these blanket caves where books could be read and games could be played. Once in a while, I joined them, careful to arrive as a builder, taking directions from the on-site ‘supervisors.’ Together we draped sheets over the back of the couch and onto a chair and across a table. Once, when the fort incorporated the dinner table, the whole family ate under the table with flashlights. My kids still talk about that dinner, many years later.
Make a gratitude tree
Grab a few fallen twigs and arrange them in a jar. Use sand or rocks to help stabilize them. Have your children cut out some leaf-shaped pieces of paper, punch a hole in one end, and attach a small loop of string. Keep the leaves in a jar beside the tree along with a pen or crayon. Have your children write something they are grateful for on a leaf and hang it on a twig branch. You can write on multiple leaves at once, or slowly build your tree, adding one gratitude leaf each day. It is beautiful to watch the tree “bloom” as your thoughts of gratitude grow!
Ask each family member to answer an interesting or fun question, such as:
- “If you were an animal, which one would you be? And why?”
- “Who is someone you admire? What do you admire about them?”
- “If you could give an imaginary gift to each member of my family (something they’d really like), what would it be? And why?”
You can also use connecting questions to check-in on how people are doing, or how they are handling challenges:
- “What have been one highlight and one challenge of the last week for you?”
- “When you feel stressed out, what is the best thing someone can do for you?”
- “What was the best day of the past week for you? Why?”