When we talk about connecting and communicating with children, how to encourage children to listen to you more, how to get your children to cooperate, the first step is – the level of connections you have with your children – your relationships and bonding with them. Language and modern technology are the ket these days.
I have just spent some time with my Aunty in Japan and her family. My cousins work long hours, so most mornings, after a very quick breakfast, they are off to work and we won't see them until very late at night.
They are physically and mentally tired, and some of them will have after work activities, therefore connecting with them at home become harder.
Each country has their culture, beliefs, societal expectations and behaviour, thus how my cousins are brought up may be different from how I brought up my children or how I was personally brought up. But one important thing remains the same, irrespective of where you live or who you are: your relationship with your children depends on how connected and bonded you are with them!
Using the example of my Japanese cousins, yes, they are busy and hardly have time with their parents but that does not mean there should not be any communication with them. Communication and connections are established from the moment your children are born, from the first moment your eyes connect, the moment you held them in your arms, the moment you shared the first words, first touch, first smile, first disagreement …. Those were first steps to connections and bonding with your children.
As children grew, the language we used also changed according to their level of needs and understanding. They may choose to spend more time socialising with their peers, or travel to explore the world, some children may choose their own company than others… Irrespective of how much time you have with your children, your connections and bonding with them will still be your priority.
Relationships are about shared experiences
It is not about the amount of time you spend communicating with them, it is about the quality of the time you share together. So for example while my husband and I were travelling in Japan, Hong Kong and Malaysia, despite the time differences between our children and our relatives, we can still manage to connect and communicate.
Sometimes, it was not communicating directly with them over Skype (which we did on many occasions) but we used the many social media applications, such as Whatapps, FaceTime, Facebook messenger etc. I am sure there are many more applications out there, but I am sticking to those that I know well.
Speaking the Language of your Children
On some days when time permitted, we talked over Skype or FaceTime, and if we were on the road or did not have access to Wi-Fi, we would leave messages via Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger for them.
What message did we leave?
We may take photos of what we did, ate, places we visited or people we met etc.. My children would reciprocate when time permitted, such as what they cooked for dinner, asking for instructions on how to cook a certain dish, took photos of when my plants or flowered, or who they just had dinner with, their work, their encounters about their day, their sports competition etc….
It does not matter what the topic of conversation would be, as long as something in common is being shared. Once you have established this connection, conversations will just flow.