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We all wish that our relationship with our children resembles that of Rory and Lorelai in Gilmore Girls. We want to be best friends, to be able to communicate properly – to have a strong bond that will never be broken by petty arguments.
Still, this type of parent-child relationship takes time to build. You don’t become best friends with your child overnight – you just develop the right practices that will bring you closer to them. So, here are some habits that you can dive into to strengthen your bond.
Have Regular Game Nights
You are never really too old for toys and games – and if there’s one thing that we know about kids, it’s that they love to play. Sure, they can do that without you. All they have to do is pick up their Nintendo or outdoor ball. But nothing compares to the fun and bonding that occurs when you are enjoying that time together.
You can play any game that you want. Take out the Jenga or the board games, have a good laugh with the family-friendly version of Cards Against Humanity; there are plenty of kid-friendly games that you can play together. It may look like a simple activity, but the fact that you set a recurring game night will bring you closer to them every time.
Have Meals Together
When you are eating with your family, you have a great chance of bonding and conversation. This is why, next time you see your kid trying to grab their meal and flee into the bedroom, you should set a new rule: meals are held together.
They’ll probably complain at first. A lot. Possibly stay on their phone as they are eating, particularly if they are teenagers. But eventually, they’ll fall into the habit as well – and they may just use this opportunity to get to know you better. In the long run, having meals together is very likely to strengthen your parent-child bond.
Have Your 12 Hugs
Virginia Satir, a famous therapist, once said that we need 4 hugs every day for survival, 8 for maintenance, and 12 for growth. This is why snuggling your kid for a couple of minutes every morning or whenever you get the chance can strengthen your bond.
Mix these hugs with some hair tousling, back-patting, and shoulder-rubbing – and there you have a connection forming. Bear in mind that if your kid is older and you suddenly start hugging them out of the blue, it might feel weird and awkward for them.
This is why you need to ease into that connection. Have a chat, grab a cool drink together, and maybe give them a foot run. This will offer you a chance to hear out what happened in their life on that day. You’ll thank yourself later.
Ditch Technology when You Are Together
We live in a day and age when we are pretty much attached to the hip to technology. We use the TV to listen to the news, our teens use their phones to talk on social media or level up on Angry Birds, and even our toddlers are using the tablet to play some games.
If you want to have some quality bonding time with your child, then you may want to turn off the technology while you are with them. Even as you are turning off the music in the car, you are sending off an invitation to connect. Plus, lack of eye contact often takes the pressure off – and in a need to make things less awkward, kids will talk. Say hello to another parent-child bonding session.
Plus, when there’s technology playing in the background, you often allow yourself to get distracted. You pay more attention to the movie than you do to your kid (with your kid doing the same). This is why you may want to be very careful not to let technology steal from your quality time and perhaps indulge in some fun summer activities.
Very often, it may feel like we are listening to our child – but we are not actively listening. We hear their problem (along with the news on the TV), we become aware of the fact that they have a problem, but we don’t settle too much on it. We often listen passively, causing us to fail in empathising.
If you wish to connect with your child, you may want to listen actively, while empathizing with them. Try to better understand the situation and ask the appropriate questions for you to get a better grasp of the situation. You don’t need to tell them that they did wrong – especially not when they open up. Instead, try to understand them and you’ll see that they’ll become more inclined to open up to you.
This is perhaps one of the most important habits that you may engage in, as a parent trying to bond with their child: show up. It may be just for that dinner that you promised to have together or the baseball match where they expect to see you. Kids only have about 900 weeks with you before they “fly,” so make sure that their memory of you is not that of an empty seat.
Show up, and when you do show up, be there 100%. Let go of everything else. You don’t want your kid to feel unimportant enough for your attention, seeing you focus on your things rather than on them. Regardless of their age, when they see that you are giving them your undivided attention, they are bound to be moved enough to connect with you.
The Bottom Line
Humans are creatures of habit and the right habits can certainly help you connect with your child more. While they might seem difficult to stick to in the beginning, with time, you will adjust to them better – and eventually, they will become second nature to you.
Author Bio: Jess Goode is a Marketing Assistant at Myer and has worked with iconic Australian brands such as Jetstar, mycar, and more.