Little family figures together. Learn how to connect with your kids and it will strengthen your relationships.

Have you ever felt like your drifting apart from your kids? Or, does it feel like the connections you do make are limited and lacking depth? If so, you’re not alone. Busy schedules, technology, and different parenting styles can all contribute to a lack of connection between you and your child. The good news is, that it’s not too late to reconnect! In this article, we will talk about how to connect with your kids so that you can build stronger and more fulfilling relationships.

Connection Challenges

Why is it so hard to connect sometimes? As caring parents, we want to feel close to our children. We even go to great lengths to connect and then feel like failures. What’s the deal?

It can be helpful to examine some of the barriers we face:

The Time Crunch

Time can be a huge issue when you are raising a family. Every member has different demands on their plates, and sometimes we are in such a rush from task to task, that the day is over before we know it. As our heads hit the pillows, we realize we crossed a lot of things off our list, but didn’t connect with our kids.

Distraction Factor

One of the of the most difficult challenges of modern parenting centers around the incredible amount of distractions we face. Like it or not, screen’s and technology are everywhere, and they are all vying for our attention. The amount of time we spend on our phones alone can be alarming.

A Dysfunctional Inheritance

Some of us grew up in homes where healthy relationships were not modeled. This means there are many parents out there who don’t know how to connect simply because they were not taught it in their own families of origin. They may have learned dysfunctional forms of communication that are difficult to overcome.

Priority Confusion

When we say we want to connect with our children, but aren’t willing to make it a priority, it’s not going to happen! When it comes to prioritizing our family relationships, actions always speak louder than words.

Demanding The High Ground

Demanding the high ground means you have established that connection has to come on your terms. If it’s not the right time, activity, or conversation, you are unwilling to connect with your children from where they are at.

So, How Do You Overcome Barries To Connection?

It’s not always easy, but with persistent effort, it’s totally possible.

  1. Figure Out Which Barries Are Getting In Your Way

Take a look again at the list above. Reflect on your specific circumstances. Consider which barrier is having the biggest negative effect on your relationship.

2. Make a plan

Decide how you want to tackle your specific barrier. Determine what small steps you can take to overcome your unique challenges.

3. Follow Though

The best plans are basically worthless if you don’t follow though. Do what you say you are going to do, don’t make excuses.

4. Re-Evaluate

Is what you’re doing actually working? If it’s not, head back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan.

A sad mother and daughter.

Connection Buster’s

Even the best plans will fall apart if you do some of these things when trying to connect with your children.

This is what you want to avoid:

  • Criticism: When you constantly criticize you children, it can make them feel like they’re not good enough. This can damage your child’s self-esteem and make them less likely to share their thoughts and feelings with you.
  • Comparison: Compare your kids to other children is not cool, it can make your children feel isolated and alone.
  • Controlling behavior: When you try to control your children’s lives, it shows a lack of respect and trust. This can make it difficult for the children to develop a sense of independence and autonomy.
  • Unavailability: If you are too busy or too stressed to spend time with your children, they will know that they aren’t a priority in your life.
  • Disrespect: Disrespecting your children teaches them that it’s okay to be disrespectful to others. This dammages your relationship and your child’s relationships with other people.
  • Neglect: When parents neglect their children’s physical or emotional needs, it can have a devastating impact on the child’s development. Neglected children may have difficulty forming healthy relationships and may be more likely to experience problems such as anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem.

Toxic Behavior That Causes Disconnection

  • Not Showing Affection: A lack of physical and verbal affection can make children feel unloved or neglected.
  • Using Guilt or Manipulation: Guilt-tripping or manipulating your child into compliance can damage trust and lead to rebellion.
  • Dismissing Their Feelings: Telling a child to “stop being dramatic” or “it’s not a big deal” can make them suppress their emotions and feel invalidated.
  • Being Inconsistent: Inconsistency in discipline or behavior can lead to confusion and anxiety in children.
  • Lack of Empathy: Failing to empathize with your child’s struggles or challenges can lead to a lack of emotional connection. After all, without empathy, you are showing you really don’t understand them or their feelings.
  • Forcing Interests or Hobbies: Forcing a child into activities they have no interest in can lead to resentment and disengagement.
  • Ignoring Their Privacy: Invading your child’s privacy, such as reading their diary or snooping through their personal belongings, will destroy trust.
  • Making Promises You Can’t Keep: Failing to follow through on promises or commitments can lead to disappointment and mistrust.
  • Sarcasm or Hurtful Jokes: Making hurtful or sarcastic remarks, even in jest, can cause emotional pain and resentment.
  • Dismissing Their Dreams: Telling your child that their dreams or aspirations are unrealistic can crush their motivation and ambition.
  • Punishing with Withdrawal of Love: Threatening to withdraw love or affection as punishment can create fear and insecurity.
  • Not Apologizing: Refusing to apologize when you’re wrong teaches your children that it’s okay not to take responsibility for their actions.
  • Ignoring Mental Health: Neglecting your child’s mental health needs or dismissing their emotional struggles can have long-lasting negative effects.
A sad mother and daughter.

Making Things Better

While there are lots of pitfalls and potential mistakes we can make as parents, there are many things we can do to improve and strengthen our relationships.

The Importance of Effective Communication

Our parent-child relationships are like a sturdy bridge connecting two shores. The bridge’s stability relies on effective communication, the very essence that ensures its strength.

When we communicate openly and honestly, we foster understanding and gain valuable insights into each other’s thoughts, feelings, and perspectives.

Active Listening

Active listening a game-changer with parent-child connections. First and foremost, it means being present, fully present. This means setting aside the distractions, putting away your phone or turning off the TV.

It’s looking your child in the eye, letting them know that they have your undivided attention.

Sincere Empathy

When your child speaks, it’s about more than just hearing their words; it’s about trying to understand what’s going on beneath the surface.

You’re there, nodding in agreement, saying things like, ‘I can see that you’re upset about this,’ showing them that their feelings matter, and you’re there to support them. Empathy in our relationships is powerful!

Open-ended questions

Open ended questions are the key to unlocking deeper conversations.

Here are a few examples:

“‘Can you tell me more about what happened?”

How did that make you feel?”

What is on your mind?”

It sounds like that was difficult, tell me more.”

These questions invite your child to share more and to open up. Open ended questions give your child a chance to voice their concerns and share their feelings.

Resisting Judgement

When your child talks, resist the urge to jump in with judgment or solutions. Instead, let them express themselves fully, allowing them empty their emotional backpacks.

Give your child the space they need to be heard, to know that their voice really matters.

A family having fun together.

Fun Ways To Connect With Your Child

When you want to connect with your child, quality time is essential! Quality time isn’t just about checking off a box; it’s about creating lasting memories and forging a stronger bonds with your kids. When you engage in meaningful activities together, you’re building a foundation of shared experiences that can last a lifetime.

There are lots of things you can do to connect with your kids

Family Game Nights

Gather around the table, pull out board games or card games, and let the laughter and competition flow. Whether it’s a heated round of Monopoly or a friendly game of Uno, you’re not just playing; you’re bonding.

Step Outdoors

Whether it’s hiking through a scenic trail, camping under the stars, or simply playing catch in the backyard, nature offers a the perfect for coming together. Plus, it’s an opportunity to unplug from the digital world.

Shared Hobbies or Interests

Maybe you both love painting, cooking, or playing a musical instrument. Take the time to explore these passions together. You’ll not only nurture your child’s skills and interests but also create a space for open conversations.

Explore Something Unexpected

Be willing to try something your child is interested in, even if it’s not your cup of tea. Doing something your child wants to do shows your love and willingness to compromise.

Exercise Together

Pick an activity or sport that gets the blood pumping and muscles moving. Not only is physical activity amazing for your physical health, it will strengthen your relationships as well.

Do Some Service Together

Service provides a fantastic opportunity for you to bond with your kids. It doesn’t have to be hard. Make some cookies with your kids and take them to a neighbor, help someone with their yard work. Simple acts of service are a great boost to happiness as well.

A dad greet his child.

What To Say To Help Your Child Feel Loved

Why do we want to connect with our kids?

It’s because we love them!

Sometimes we forget that love is an action, not a verb.

We need to be showing our children unconditional love every single day through our actions and our words. Here are some phrases to keep in the back of your mind:

  1. “I love you unconditionally, just the way you are.”
  2. “You are worthy of love, no matter what.”
  3. “You make me proud every day.”
  4. “You are an amazing kid, and I’m lucky to be your parent.”
  5. “I love seeing you happy, it makes my day.”
  6. “You are loved more than words can express.”
  7. “You are deserving of all the love and happiness in the world.”
  8. “You are such a gift in my life, I am grateful for you.”
  9. “I believe in you and your abilities.”
  10. “Spending time with you was the best part of my day, and I love you to the moon and back.”

Looking for more ways to say I love you? Spend some time and figure out what your child’s love language is. This is a great way to really connect with your child in a way that speaks to them.

Final Thoughts

All relationships have their ups and downs. There are times when for one reason or another we feel disconnected from our kids. Remember, parenthood isn’t a race, its a marathon! You have time to change your approach and make connections with your children. When you do the little things everyday, it will add up over time. Love and connection build on each other!

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