When your little one was a baby, you fed them, bathe them, burp them, change them and cuddled them. Your creating a connection with them. Finding your flow and rhythm in the daily routine of caring for them was a challenge. It was a learning curve but it was sprinkled with such precious moments. Their smile, the grasp of their hand on your finger, watching them roll over and seeing their first steps. When you’re in this stage, the days feel so long but in a blink of an eye. Years pass and as much as you might have a hard time admitting it, your baby isn’t a little baby anymore.
With new skills and self-awareness naturally comes a testing of boundaries. Of pushing back, questioning, wanting to find their own footing. Not needing you as much or in the same way as before. The connection you have now feels different. You can’t quite put your finger on it but you feel it in your gut. Wonder if this is what they mean when they say words like ‘mother’s intuition’. It’s something that you can sense the shift and wonder where you go from here.
Every mom desires a deeper, more connected relationship with their kids. So how do you begin to foster a better connection with your little love, who isn’t so little anymore? Consider trying these tips.
Tip #1. Eyes to Eyes
There are countless articles that outline the concern of giving our kids too much screen time. According to Psychology Today, “When every finger swipe brings about a response of colors and shapes and sounds, a child’s brain responds gleefully with the neurotransmitter. Dopamine the key component in our reward system that is associated with feelings of pleasure. Dopamine hits in the brain can feel almost addictive. When a child gets too used to an immediate stimuli response, he will learn to always prefer smartphone-style interaction. That is immediate gratification and response.
How disturbing is that? So, if you’re a parent who reads this and vows to begin to curb screen time, I think that’s a great start. Put your smartphone down. Whenever your child is trying to get your attention, choose to be present and look them in the eyes while they’re talking to you. This kind of mindful listening will go a long way towards building a deeper relationship with your child. As they’re talking, let your gaze linger on the shape and colour of their eyes. They say the eyes are the windows to the soul and each moment you spend like this will help to solidify your bond. So, gaze into their eyes, listen to their words and pause in these moments with a grateful heart.
Tip #2. Belly to Belly
Hugs are magical. You know those wonderfully warm, gentle hugs that make you feel like all’s right with the world. Yeah, those hugs. Give those amazing hugs to your kids. Through hugs we build a strong sense of trust and safety, our muscles relax, our oxytocin levels instantly get boosted, our serotonin levels lift to create a sense of extended happiness and I can go on and on with even more benefits of hugs.
If hugs are one of your child’s love languages, get right in there as much as possible and shower them with affection. If you child isn’t really the hugging type, then find some modifications that could work for you and them. Try side hugs, or rubbing their back when you’re walking past them. Hold their hand lightly or allow them to sink their side into yours as you’re sitting and reading them a story.
Your affection for them at this point in their lives is so imperative. Even on those days when their behaviour is challenging, that could very well be a cry for even more attention, affection and love, so set your little one up for a future filled with good health and happiness by being open to giving lots of great hugs.
Tip #3. Share Abundant Love!!!
When is the last time you told your child that, “I love you SO much!” Here’s the thing, I love to tell my kids that, “I’m such a lucky mommy, that out of all the moms in the world I get to be your mom!” My kids sigh with exasperation because I tell them that I love them so often but I know deep down inside they wouldn’t change it for the world. So, I keep on saying it over and over again and I encourage you to say it to your kids too. Let your kids know at least 50 times a day how special they are to you. Say it in creative ways, say it with a song, say it using interpretive dance; just keep saying it. This can deepen your connection with your children.
As busy moms, we sometimes don’t have time to comb through a book with 100 ways to deepen our connection with our kids. That’s just the reality of living in our society today but if as a parent you have a desire for creating emotional availability on your part, simply begin the consistent practice of these three things, and you’ll begin to foster a deeper, more connected relationship with your kids over time.