Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Being deeply connected to our children is the key to emotional health, cooperation, influence, and peaceful homes, but staying connected in the hustle and bustle of daily life can be challenging. We have to be intentional about our relationships with them now if want these relationships to flourish for years to come. Here are 10 ways to connect with your child. These require time and commitment, but the payoff is greater than anything else you will ever achieve.
1. Let go of distractions. I'm not coming with an anti-technology message, and no one expects you to let the emails go unanswered or the laundry undone, but we simply have to carve out time each and every day to attune to our children. It doesn't have to be a lot of time every day. You may be able to squeeze in only 10 minutes today, but maybe you can do an hour later in the week. The key is to really focus all of your attention on them for this set-aside time.
2. Know what makes them feel loved and give it daily. Some children need more affection, others need to hear affirming words. I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages of Children to help you understand what your child's love language is and how to practice all love languages. However, if your child is old enough, simply ask what makes him or her feel loved the most. On the flip side of this coin, be sure to avoid things that go against their language. For example, if your child's love language is words of affirmation, be especially careful with criticizing that child. Of course, you don't have to have a book to make your child feel loved. Just be sure to tell them what you love about them, encourage and build them up, and be affectionate.
3. Show sincere interest in their interests. Minecraft or One Direction might not thrill you, but you also might be surprised at what you find you enjoy when you take the time to go into your child's world.
4. Be a parent you can talk to. This means being able to listen without doling out immediate judgment. We have a tendency to want to offer our two cents before our kids even finish a sentence. Often we discount their feelings with words like Oh, it's not that big of a deal or we offer advice when really all they need is to feel heard.
5. Use positive discipline. Drop the authoritarian act in favor of being a leader and a teacher. Punishments like spanking and time out cause disconnection and don't teach the child how to improve, whereas teaching problem-solving skills and using fair and logical consequences with a healthy dose of empathy will keep the connection intact and give your child skills for better self-control.
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I truly believe that peace on earth starts at home, and that's why my website and my books have one focus, to promote peace in families. Peace must begin inward ; we must first find peace in ourselves. We can then extend that peace to our partners and children, onward to other family members and our communities, and peace will then have a ripple effect out into society.
There is much we can do to cultivate peace. For the sake of brevity, I will outline what I have found to be most fruitful in my own journey to peace.
Creating Peace Within Yourself:Know your story. Understand your past and how it has shaped you. Decide if you were shaped in a way that you do not want to be today and do the inner work needed to bring about healing and positive change. (There are many books on this topic to choose from.)
Identify your triggers. What makes you feel angry, depleted, or anxious? Write down patterns and address ways to avoid these triggers or change your reactions to them. Good questions to ask yourself are 1) where did this trigger come from, 2) what does this tell me about myself or how I'm living my life, and 3) what can I do to deactivate this trigger and find peace?
Nurture your spirit. Seek spiritual peace with daily practice of prayer and meditation. Benefits are not only spiritual, but psychological and physiological as well.
Creating Peace Within Your Environment:I believe home should be a haven ; a place where everyone walks in and says, "Ahhh!" Here are a few simple steps to make your home feel more peaceful.
1. Clutter is an energy drain. Pare down and organize.
2. Decorate. Cheerful, inspiring decor does wonders. I recently redecorated my living room, adding pops of cheerful turquoise and a few calming decorations, and it's now my favorite space in the house. When my mood needs to shift, I go there.
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Love-bombing my children on their birthdays has become a favorite family tradition. My husband remembers with fondness how each year when he was growing up, the birthday child would wake up to getting his or her nose buttered by the rest of the family. I remember the joy of feeling celebrated when my parents smothered the house in balloons and decorations. The memories you provide your birthday boy or girl now will bring smiles for a lifetime. Here are 15 ways to give joy to your child on that special day.
- Crepe paper the bedroom doorway, and all the doorways if you'd like! There is a hallway leading from my child's bedroom, and I usually put a crepe paper maze through the entire hallway. The birthday child gets to bust through the doorway and run down the hall breaking streamers! It's a fantastic way to start the day!
- Sneak into the bedroom after she's asleep and put helium balloons all over the room. What a lovely sight for her to open her eyes to on birthday morning!
- Start the day with a special breakfast. A muffin with a candle or cake batter pancakes.