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Creating Connections at Home

Top 3 Steps to Engage with Your Child More

Why create connection?

Extensive research shows that we influence children in a positive way by establishing connection with them. Connection creates a sense of safety and openness. 

Connected relationships in a child’s life are like roots of a tree. Kids with strong roots grow, survive and withstand storms. 

As a parent, how do we create connection with our children while at the same time guiding them to become happy, contributing members of society? 

Here are 3 steps to creating more connection with your child of all ages:

Step 1.     Schedule time together

·      Give your undivided attention means engaging and attuning to your child. Put devices aside. Show your child you enjoy spending time with them.

·      Really listen and ask curiosity questions to get into your child’s world, such as, “Tell me more about that.” Or “How do you feel about what happened?” Notice how the question, “why” is not used. Typically, “why” brings on defensiveness.

·      Spend this time enjoying the interaction rather than focusing on problems and corrections. Save discussions of grades, performance in sports and behavior problems for another time. 

·      Play! Play is the language our children understand.

Step 2.     Consider the iceberg

A behavior is not always what it seems. Think of behavior as the tip of an iceberg. This is what we see. Think of what is underneath the surface of the iceberg. This is what we can try to understand. Is my child feeling insecure, or lacking social skills in this situation? Is my child frustrated learning new skills or tired and hungry? This helps parents develop empathy for their child and a different way of thinking. Now there is an opportunity to teach skills and problem-solving.

Step 3.     Welcome feelings

·      Validation goes a long way in creating connection. When kids feel understood they are more connected and more likely to cooperate. This sounds like, “I can see you are feeling upset.” Or “I guess that must have been hard for you.”

·      Encourage and model appropriate coping skills to handle difficult feelings. A common challenge for parents is modeling the behavior they would like to see from their children. For example, if you don’t want your child yelling at their sibling when angry, make sure you are not yelling at someone when you are angry. 

·      Children do better when they feel better. Help your child to manage emotions through deep breathing, distraction or getting their body moving.

There are many more ways to create connection at home. I hope you give my top three a try.

Stacy Baugh is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Positive Discipline Parent Educator. With over 15 years of clinical experience, she has been in private practice serving the Dripping Springs community for nine years.