When a couple steps into the world of parenthood, their priorities change and the entire schedule starts revolving around the kids. We all crave those close moments with our children that make our hearts melt. But in this fast-moving world, at times we take relationships for granted and this can be dangerous for toddlers and teenagers. It’s the responsibility of parents to step ahead and make a move to connect with kids. The connection is as essential to parents as it is to kids because that’s what makes parenting worth all the sacrifices.
Research says that we all need five positive interactions to every negative interaction to keep any relationship healthy. And since we spend so much time guiding – aka correcting, reminding, scolding, criticising, nagging, and yelling – it’s important to make sure we spend five times as much time in positive connection. If you are the new-age parents who are struggling in handling the kids, here’s a quick guide for you.
Aim for 12 hugs every day
It’s a tried and tested trick that helps to revive every day. We all need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance and in total we need 12 hugs a day for growth, as noted in a well-known quote by family therapist Virginia Satir. When it comes to kids, try snuggling your child first thing in the morning for a few minutes, and last thing at night. Make eye contact and smile, which is a different kind of touch and feel the difference.
Making laughter a daily habit also gives your child a chance to laugh out the anxieties and upsets that otherwise make him feel disconnected – and more likely to act out. And play helps kids want to cooperate.
No to technology
While you are dealing with your kids, avoid using a cellphone, laptop and tablets. Even turning off music in the car can be a powerful invitation to connect, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids (and adults) are more likely to open up and share.
Connect before transitions
Kids have a hard time transitioning from one thing to another. They need us to “co-regulate” them through those moments when they really don’t want to give up what they’re doing to move onto something we want them to do. If you look him in the eye, use his name, connect with him, and then get him giggling, you’ll give him a bridge to manage himself through a tough transition.
Make time for one at a time
We all are busy, but it is important to schedule 15 minutes with each child, separately, every day. Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want during that time. This personal attention will help them open more and understand the bond.
As soon as you start giving them the attention, they open up and share all sorts of emotions. Allow the kids to express their emotions. Besides, this is an opportunity to help your child heal those upsets, which will bring you closer. So summon up all your compassion, don’t let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger.
Listen and empathise
As a mature parent, develop the habit of being a good listener, who knows the art of empathising. The habit of seeing things from your child’s perspective will ensure that you treat them with respect and look for win/win solutions. It will help you see the reasons for behaviour that would otherwise drive you crazy.
Handling kids is a crucial task and instead of rushing your child through the schedule so you can spend a few minutes with him before bed, use every interaction all day long as an opportunity to connect. Slow down and share the moment with your child. Let the kid smell the strawberries before you put them in the smoothie.
This article has been written by Pankaj Kumar Singh and first appeared in ‘The Indian Express’.
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