There is no denying, children have an innate desire for their parents’ attention and time, but don't we all? Parents are busy – stretched with both work commitments and their children's need for their attention and time. There is always housework to be done, and if you are a working parent, you will have your stress from work as well. In addition you have your children's needs to be met, after school activities, dinner to be prepared, your own parents' needs…
Everyone is crying out for attention and you can be overwhelmingly stretched and burdened. How are you ever going to make time for one on one connections with your children?
First, let's not dwell on how are you going to make time; let's focus on why it is so important to make one-on-one time with your children? Because I believe that once you know the importance, you will know how to make time – this is because I believe that no matter how busy you are, you will always find the time for something or for a person that is important and dear to you.
Wouldn't you agree?
Why connecting one-on-one time is important?
As your children get older, they are busier with their school work and more active socially, so you will have less and less time to see them at home.
On top of that, nowadays Facebook or social media are one of the main connections in your children’s lives. This means we tend to see less and less of ‘communication’ happening in the household. Parents need to pay more attention to what is going on and so the need to truly connect with them is more paramount.
For parents of teenagers, they may be struggling with their teenagers' disinterest in communicating with them. Sometimes when you ask your child “How’s your day?”, his response would be “Hmmmmm, it’s OK” and shrugs his shoulders and heads off back to the computer/room. This is not communication.
It is understandable that parents can sometimes feel powerless, frustrated and very disconnected with their children. They feel that they are unable to communicate with them, and are totally at a loss of what their teenagers may be thinking. Often we don't know how to bridge the connection.
Some parents may be thinking: you are communicating and connecting during dinner time, during the commute between after school activities, you are home with them most of time supervising their homework, their school activities… isn't that enough to create connections with them?
How do you feel about that?
Do you really understand your child?
Do you really know what their needs are?
Do you really know who their friends are? Who are they mixing with at school?
It is great if you are having the opportunity to connect during dinner time and every opportunity you may have. However, your children are individuals, and are of different age groups with different needs, so by having conversations with your family together, you may not have the opportunity to build deeper relationships with your child. In order to cater for their individual needs and at their level, one on one time provides the perfect opportunity to connect.
The medicine of one-on-one connections
When you give your younger child that one-on-one full attention, delve into her world, explore and join her in her imaginary world of play or just read a story book together, your relationship between you and your child can transform.
Through the fun play a young child can release their emotions and tensions, and so be more calm and relaxed. Those pent up stresses melt away, which would otherwise come out as whining, temper tantrums or a complete meltdown. If they feel safe and joyful spending time with you, that's how they build the trust – am important component for connections.
As for an older child, they are able to enjoy your undivided attention. So be fully focused on them and be emotionally available to listen and empathise with their needs and desires. That undivided attention build trust.
When you child can sense that you are really enjoying her company, being emotional engaging, and that you are interested to know about her day and hear what she has to share, your child feels that she is the centre of your world. The child then has the impression of how valuable and precious she is, how much she is valued and loved. It will help boost her confidence, self esteem and self worth.
It is this precise moment, your child will feel safe enough to open up, to share and communicate with you her deepest fears, her frustrations, her desires…sharing things that sometimes parents don't even know.
This is priceless. If you parent consciously, and approach the privilege with empathy and with confidence, you will ensure a smooth line of communication with your child in the future. And this is how you will be the go-to person when your child is a teenager, because they trust you and feel safe to share and will listen to your opinion.
This is very valuable. As adults, we all have needs that may not have been met when we were a child, so by giving the opportunity to your child to express and share, it is a wonderful and powerful way to have her needs met.
How do you make time?
In order to make time, you need to make the switch of focus from busy and stressed, to being fully focused on your child even for just 15 minutes. Tune in to your child's world, listen to their stories, join in to their play… be fully focused and be absorbed in their company.
Making time to connect with your child does not have to be expensive or time consuming. A 15 minute story time, while your child sitting on your lap, will work magic. Even 10 minutes in the kitchen while having a glass of water provides time to connect. Stop, talk and start to connect.
Make the time, create the connections that enable you and your family to enjoy each other's company with joy, harmony and unconditional love. It is never too late to connect with your children, so start connecting now!
Have a connected day with your family.